Rutledge perfect at plate in Major League debut

Rutledge perfect at plate in Major League debut

DENVER -- Josh Rutledge's familiar baseball equipment lay beside his locker in an equipment bag, with airline baggage tags wrapped around the carrying straps. They didn't arrive at Coors Field in time Friday.

His bats, his fielding and batting gloves, his shoes -- all of which helped him to an impressive performance at Double-A Tulsa -- will have to wait a day for their big league debut. Maybe they can do as well as the owner did.

Rutledge started at shortstop and had two hits, including a run-scoring double, with a sacrifice fly and a walk in the Rockies' 6-2 victory over the Phillies at Coors Field. After making a scavenger hunt just to be able to take the field, Rutledge showed he could be a keeper.

After the game, Rutledge stripped out of his borrowed gear but was wearing something else given to him that night. The remnants of a shaving-cream pie to the face that he received from teammate Tyler Colvin during a postgame interview. The prank is as old as the on-field star-of-the-game interview, but it's all new and welcome to Rutledge.

"I haven't got a chance to shower yet, but that was definitely fun -- first game you get shaving cream in the face," Rutledge said. "That was awesome."

In batting practice, Rutledge, 23, a third-round Draft pick in 2010 out of Alabama, wore injured shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's fielding and batting gloves, as well as used his bats, and he wore Carlos Gonzalez's shoes. By game time, Rutledge's bats were ones DJ LeMahieu left around after being sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Rutledge ended up using Tulowitzki's batting gloves and shoes, and took the field with Jordan Pacheco's spare fielder's glove.

The most valuable item, though, was the scouting report from Tulowitzki, who is with the team rehabbing from left groin surgery in June. Rutledge's two hits and the sac fly came against Phillies veteran starter Cliff Lee.

"He sat beside me before the game started and was telling me what to expect, and just have fun," Rutledge said.

Rutledge's run-scoring double came after Colvin had grounded out and Pacheco had hit into a force play with two on base. The sacrifice fly was another strong at-bat, and he drew the walk despite being behind in the count against Phillies reliever Michael Schwimer. Rutledge also stole second after the walk.

Rutledge hit .305 with 13 home runs, 27 doubles and 35 RBIs at Tulsa.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy had seen little of Rutledge, who was not in Major League camp during Spring Training. Tracy will see a lot more of Rutledge, since the Rockies plan to start him regularly until Tulowitzki returns, which is not expected for another six weeks. Rutledge could play second base when Tulowitzki returns.

"He played the game with a lot of poise, and it was very intriguing to see that," Tracy said.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.