CHICAGO -- Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said it is possible outfielder/first baseman Michael Cuddyer can go on a rehab assignment and return from the 15-day disabled list when he is eligible on May 24, based on how Cuddyer's neck has responded to treatment for past injuries.
Cuddyer underwent an MRI in Denver on Monday. The results weren't immediately known, but Dugger did not expect any surprises. Cuddyer suffered a bulging disc in the C6-C7 area in 2004, and it flared up again in '11. This is the first incident since.
Dugger said the plan is for Cuddyer to take an epidural shot to "break that little spasm cycle," and that "it's usually just a few days."
Dugger said it's good news that Cuddyer doesn't have pain radiating down his arms. Cuddyer can gradually work to regain range of motion and strength about two days after the shot.
Cuddyer will need a brief Minor League rehab assignment once cleared to play, Dugger said.
Charlie Blackmon, promoted when Cuddyer went to the disabled list Sunday, made his second straight start in left field Monday after going 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in Sunday's 8-2 victory against the Cardinals.
Manager Walt Weiss said Blackmon and Eric Young, Jr., will both have opportunities to start in Cuddyer's absence. The Rockies have carried just four outfielders this season. Weiss said it's too early to think about whether to keep five, as many teams do, when Cuddyer returns.
Rockies, Tulo continuously manage groin injury
CHICAGO -- Troy Tulowitzki's three-run homer Sunday not only unlocked the Rockies' offense in an 8-2 victory against the Cardinals, but it also helped validate the team's careful approach with his left groin.
The Rockies kept Tulowitzki out of the lineup for three of the six games on their most recent homestand because of inflammation. Considering that Tulowitzki missed most of last season because of left groin surgery and has a history of leg-muscle issues, the Rockies decided to take a safe approach.
Such moves aren't always popular, given that Tulowitzki is hitting .324 with eight home runs and a team-leading 31 RBIs. But the Rockies prefer to have Tulowitzki miss some early action, so that he doesn't worsen any potential injuries. They hope to have him available throughout season without having to miss chunks of time on the disabled list, or like last season, be unavailable at the end.
"Every single day I've gotten better," Tulowitzki said. "It's kind of a marathon. As long as I'm there in September, that's the goal, not run myself into the ground.
"I've had a chance to catch up. I've felt better and better every single game. I'm excited about that. Instead of going out there being sore and being close to blowing out, I think we made the right decision."
Tulowitzki realizes he also has to manage the injury. On a chilly afternoon in Chicago, Tulowitzki navigated the chairs and tables in a cramped Wrigley Field clubhouse -- there is barely enough room to dress or eat a snack -- with a dynamic stretch warmup of movement combined with stretching. He also did the parts of his routine that involve barbells in the clubhouse, rather than the cramped training room. By the time he was done, the exercise bike, tucked in a small opening between lockers and a refrigerator, was free for him to hop on.
Tulowitzki is learning when to be reserved in some in-game movements. On a groundout Sunday, he burned down the first-base line and could have lunged to try to beat the throw, but he suffered the groin injury on a similar play earlier in the season. Since one base isn't worth another period of pain and missed starts, he eased into the base.
"We're always trying to work on different parts of the game, and that's it for me," he said. "I'm just trying to play within myself, not lunging too much. Maybe sometimes, when the game asks for 100 percent, I can only give it 80, but that's smart on my part, so I can be out there every single day."
Fowler sits, but struggles not due to hip flexor
CHICAGO -- The Rockies rested slumping center fielder Dexter Fowler on Monday night.
Although Fowler's slump coincides with his leaving a May 3 game with right hip flexor soreness, manager Walt Weiss said he does not believe the injury is related to the 2-for-26 slump that Fowler entered Monday's opener against the Cubs with.
"For me, I just felt like it was a good day to give Dex a little break," Weiss said. "You try to have a feel for those things with your players and watch them closely. This was one of those days it would be good for him to have a day off and get back at it tomorrow.
"Everybody at some point offensively is going to get beat up in this league. You grind though those things and try to work your way through it. He got off to a great start, and I think we all see him turning into an outstanding player before our eyes. I'm not worried about him. I'm just giving him a day off."
With Fowler out, Eric Young, Jr., played center field.
Weiss would have let De La Rosa pitch with no-no
CHICAGO -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss is keeping a careful eye on the number of pitches his starters throw. That's particularly the case with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, who underwent elbow surgery in 2011 and was limited to three starts last year.
But Weiss was willing to ask a little more of De La Rosa on Sunday afternoon.
De La Rosa threw 6 2/3 no-hit innings before Cardinals third baseman David Freese singled and he finished with seven innings of two-hit ball, walking three and striking out seven in a 6-2 win. He finished with 100 pitches and admitted to feeling fatigue. But if he did not give up a hit in the seventh, he would have had a chance to push as far as he could.
"I was going to let him go," Weiss said. "There gets to a point where we're always looking for ways to protect our pitching, but I'd have had a real hard time going out there and taking him out when he had a no-hitter."
But if it isn't a special occasion, Weiss will continue to err on the side of caution.
"Not in the near future, I'm not going to let him throw 115 pitches," Weiss said. "I'll just play that by ear. The way that the pitching has worked out so far, it's worked very well. Because of those guys in the middle [right-handers Edgmer Escalona and Adam Ottavino, and lefty Josh Outman], the fact that they've thrown the ball so well, it's taken a lot of pressure off our starters and the back end of our bullpen."
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.