CHICAGO -- Pinch-hitting is a new experience for Rockies rookie Josh Rutledge. It was a fun new activity Saturday afternoon. Rutledge's two-run homer in the fourth inning ignited the offense in Colorado's 4-3 victory over the Cubs on Saturday.
Rutledge, 23, had been the starting shortstop since his July 13 callup from Double-A Tulsa, but a left quadriceps strain has limited him to bench duty for most of the last week. The Rockies have been letting him do some limited hitting, and the plan worked well Saturday. He's 4-for-7 with a double, a triple and the homer as a pinch-hitter.
"That was definitely my first time doing that -- until now I haven't really pinch-hit all that much," said Rutledge, a third-round pick from Alabama in 2010. "My leg has been good. I've never felt it hitting. I'll still probably be pretty cautious running, but for the most part it feels good."
Rutledge (.341, seven HRs, 25 RBIs in 36 games) will move to second base when regular shortstop Troy Tulowitzki returns from a Minor League injury rehab assignment as he completes his comeback from left groin surgery. Before the injury, Rutledge was devoting part of batting practice to getting acclimated to playing second. The day before Tulowitzki went to Tulsa for rehab games, he and Rutledge practiced together.
The plan is to have Rutledge play some second but still ease him into action to make sure there isn't a setback. Manager Jim Tracy hoped to use Rutledge at second during Sunday's finale of the three-game set with the Cubs, but rain hit Wrigley before the game and Tracy said he might not want Rutledge playing on a wet field. Tracy said he might make Rutledge's next start at second, with Jonathan Herrera playing short until Tulowitzki returns.
"I've been talking ground balls in both places," Rutledge said. "I played some second in Tulsa and I enjoyed it. It doesn't matter to me -- anything to keep us winning."
The Rockies' nine pinch-hit homers going into Sunday led the National League and were two shy of the club record, shared by the 1995 and 2004 teams.