DENVER -- It appears Dexter Fowler has regained a grip on the Rockies' center field position after seemingly losing it.
The mercurial Fowler has reached base in six of his last seven games. Going into Saturday afternoon's game against the Mariners, he was 4-for-7 through three games of the current homestand.
The last two seasons, Fowler endured demotions to Triple-A Colorado Springs before returning for strong second halves.
This season, the Rockies didn't send him down, but did begin shifting playing time to Tyler Colvin a little more than a week ago. Fowler had enough poor at-bats and enough sloppy plays in the field that he became a lightning rod for criticism during the team's disappointing start to the season.
But with other players needing rest, Colvin played left field and first base and Fowler received a new chance. Fowler's average went from .219 to .243 and his on-base percentage went from .406 to .466 through three games of the homestand.
"A lot of people lost confidence in me, but I never lost confidence in myself," Fowler said Saturday. "I don't think anybody in the organization lost faith in me, or I probably wouldn't be here. But everybody else made it a much bigger deal than it needed to be in my head. God's given me some talents, and it's about utilizing those."
Offensively, the leg kick that brought the switch-hitting Fowler's swing to a new level last year became an issue this year. He added it during last season. He could adjust it depending on how he felt or what he needed during a particular at-bat. It's an added moving part that's difficult to control.
"I had been playing, so my timing was there," Fowler said. "Coming back this year, it was actually like starting from scratch. So I had to learn to just simplify it."
As long as veterans such as Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton need days off -- Helton was off Saturday, and Cuddyer moved from right field to first base to preserve his legs -- Colvin still will get the playing time he has earned. Colvin entered Saturday hitting .315 with three home runs and 11 RBIs, first with part-time duty and now in the daily lineup.
"[Fowler] definitely has opened the door," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "What has worked out very well for us, too, is it's not a matter of him creating opportunity for himself and as a result I have to slide Tyler Colvin to the back burner. Because of the day game after night game today and the effectiveness that I've seen Tyler Colvin have against right- and left-handed pitching, I have the opportunity to slide him right back in there.
"So they're both playing."
Tracy said he also can give left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who went into Saturday 3-for-13 during the homestand, a day off and play Colvin in his stead.
De La Rosa frustrated by setback
DENVER -- The left forearm tightness that Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa has experienced while working his way back from elbow surgery has led the team to halt his rehab assignment, the team announced Saturday.
Technically, the Rockies recalled De La Rosa from his 30-day rehab assignment, which would have expired on May 27 and would have had him targeted to start in the Manors against the Dodgers on June 2. De La Rosa is frozen for seven days, then can be placed on the DL for forearm tightness and begin a new 30-day window.
De La Rosa was 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA when he underwent Tommy John surgery a year ago. In an odd pattern, De La Rosa experienced no tightness when he began throwing during extended spring training at the team's complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., and was fine during two rehab starts at Class A Modesto. But De La Rosa's first start at Double-A Tulsa on May 12 limited him to one inning. He threw four innings Thursday and experienced tightness at the end.
A frustrated De La Rosa angrily threw his T-shirt at the end of a workout Saturday at Coors Field, but calmed down and said he understood.
"It's very disappointing," said De La Rosa, who would have started at Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday. "I pitched good last time, but I felt a little tightness. They want me to pitch more time in the Minors. I have to do whatever they want.
"I want to be here, but like they say, I need more time. I have to pitch more, build more pitches, to be ready to be here. They want to make sure everything is OK. It hasn't been a year since I had the surgery. They know how hard it is."
Had De La Rosa made the June 2 target date, he would have been back a day short of the anniversary of last year's surgery. But rarely does a comeback from Tommy John surgery go so smoothly.
"I still don't think that this is any big thing," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "It's just another avenue in the road that you have to go down as you're recuperating."
Going into the season, the Rockies were hoping for solid work from a relatively young rotation that would get a lift from De La Rosa's return. Jeremy Guthrie, a veteran added during the winter, missed three starts in April and May with a shoulder injury. Jhoulys Chacin, expected to make major strides, tried to pitch through shoulder tightness, performed badly and hasn't pitched in a game since May 1. Now on the disabled list, Chacin isn't throwing because he needs to strengthen his shoulder.
For the Rockies to turn the corner after their 15-23 start going into Saturday's game with the Mariners, much of the responsibility falls to three young pitchers -- second-year righty Juan Nicasio and two rookies, righty Alex White and lefty Christian Friedrich, who started Saturday's contest. Guthrie and lefty Jamie Moyer are the staff's veterans.
Pomeranz throws scoreless outing for Colorado Springs
DENVER -- Left-hander Drew Pomeranz threw a second straight scoreless outing for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday night.
But much to the chagrin of Pacific Coast League hitters, and probably to the disappointment of fans wanting a reason to feel good as the Rockies continue to struggle, manager Jim Tracy said Pomeranz needs more time.
Pomeranz, 23, who was 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA before the Rockies sent him down, held New Orleans scoreless in 5 2/3 innings, with three hits, four strikeouts and a walk in Friday's 4-2 Sky Sox victory. He blanked Memphis for six innings in his previous start.
But Pomeranz, the key to last year's Ubaldo Jimenez trade with the Indians, is not being measured by stats in Pacific Coast League games. The Rockies wanted Pomeranz at a higher arm slot, with the belief it will improve the power on his fastball and help him command his curve so that he can throw it for strikes.
"It's more of my hand on top, not on the side of the ball," Pomeranz told Brian Gomez of the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Pomeranz's 91 pitches in 5 2/3 represented not quite the efficiency that the Rockies would like. Some of the pitchers were left in locations that would not have worked against Major League hitters -- others that hitters chased would be ignored in the Majors.
"I'm not surprised he's pitching good in Triple-A -- throwing scoreless innings and giving up just a couple of hits," Tracy said. "But we're trying to make him a little bit better than good. We just don't want him here at the big-league level trying to survive or just making a little contribution. We view this guy as someone that can be a dominant force at the front end of the rotation.
"You need to develop the consistent arm slot and the consistent feel for the pitch. So you know when you've got a first-ball hacker that sees a breaking ball and quits on it, you can just toss it in there for a strike. He's not doing that consistently enough. He has a couple of other things in relation to his delivery that he needs to get a little bit better. He's going to get people out. But rather than get some of them out, we want him to get all of them out."
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.