DENVER -- Rockies rookie Josh Rutledge was back in the lineup Wednesday at shortstop for the second game in a row after missing eight starts with a tight left quad.
He continued his hot hitting, singling in his first two at-bats to improve to .350 (49-for-140) with seven homers and 27 RBIs in his first 40 big league games.
"There are players that come to the big leagues and it takes a period of time -- there's a learning curve involved," manager Jim Tracy said. "Then you have exceptions to the rule. Troy Tulowitzki back in the day was an exception to the rule. This kid is making a statement for himself right now that he is an exception to the rule."
One of the most remarkable indicators of Rutledge's comfort level in the Majors is his success in pinch-hit at-bats during the eight games he didn't start. Rutledge went 5-for-8 with a double, triple and a home run in his first big league at-bats off the bench.
"I have tested him," Tracy said. "I've watched what he's done with runners on second, nobody out. I've challenged him with hit-and-run -- he's passed. I've challenged him with using the whole field in given situations -- he's passed. He's a quick learner."
Rutledge has made the 80 games without Tulowitzki bearable as the Rockies have thrived with the rookie shortstop. He's already earned a penciled-in role as the Rockies' starting second baseman in 2013, joining Tulowitizki for a double-play combination that can deliver in the field and with power at the plate.
"I'm anxious to see how he's going to do at second base, but with the early work we've done with him and the information I've been given from some of my coaches, it's going to be something that I think is fairly dynamic to see, the two of them play together," Tracy said.