DENVER -- The Rockies have optioned Opening Day second baseman Josh Rutledge to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Outfielder Michael Cuddyer will take his active roster spot Friday, when he is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list (bulging disc in neck).
The move, which will become official before the Rockies face the Giants in the opener of a three-game series at AT&T Park on Friday night, rewards DJ LeMahieu, who has hit .412 in seven games since being called up from Colorado Springs. Jonathan Herrera will continue as the backup at second, third and shortstop.
It also means the Rockies will go with five outfielders after using four at the start of the season. Carlos Gonzalez in left, Dexter Fowler in center and Cuddyer in right will be the regulars, with Eric Young Jr. and Charlie Blackmon -- who has hit .200 with one home run since being called up in Cuddyer's absence -- as the reserves.
Rutledge, 24, is hitting .242 but has slumped on and off. During the Rockies' just-completed 5-2 homestand, he went 2-for-16, and is hitting .206 since May 10. Manager Walt Weiss had said in recent days that he thought Rutledge's athletic ability -- he has five home runs and is 5-for-5 on steals -- would help him regain his form, but the Rockies decided Rutledge would have more success finding his swing with regular at-bats at Colorado Springs.
The Rockies called Rutledge up from Double-A Tulsa to play shortstop on July 13, after Troy Tulowitzki underwent season-ending surgery on his right groin. Rutledge batted .274 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 73 games. He struggled at the end, but a quadriceps issue and the extended length of his season were seen as possible explanations. Interestingly, he was teamed with LeMahieu, who played 81 games and finished with a .297 batting average while playing second base.
Going into this season, the Rockies decided to shift Rutledge to second base, but not to have him concentrate solely on that position. However, playing one position means he is unable to stay in the Majors if he's not the starter.
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.