Cuddyer back with Rox, hits in cleanup spot

Cuddyer back with Rox, hits in cleanup spot

PITTSBURGH -- Michael Cuddyer, the Rockies' leading hitter with a .329 batting average, returned to the club on Saturday after missing two games to be with his wife, who was ill.

"Things have settled down for him at home to the point where he is able to come back and join us, and we've got him at first base tonight," manager Walt Weiss said before the middle game against the Pirates. "It'll be nice to have him in the middle of the lineup tonight."

With left fielder Carlos Gonzalez missing his third straight start because of his recurring right middle finger sprain, Weiss tweaked the lineup to have usual cleanup hitter Troy Tulowitzki (.324, 20 HR, 61 RBIs) bat third and Cuddyer hit cleanup.

Cuddyer started at first base, which ended veteran Todd Helton's string of starts at eight. Weiss wanted to rest Helton a day in Pittsburgh, and decided to do it with Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano on the mound. But don't expect the Rockies to go back to their early-season schedule, when Helton was essentially a part-time starter who shared first base with Jordan Pacheco, who has been sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

"I expect to be running him out there pretty regularly," Weiss said.

Gonzalez appeared in Friday night's 4-2 victory over the Pirates as a defensive replacement in the eighth and ninth innings. Gonzalez said he hopes to return to the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon.

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.