Colorado manager Walt Weiss knows that if the Rockies are going to make a run to the postseason in 2014, it has to begin now.
When Nolan Arenado sustained a broken left middle finger while sliding into second on May 23, the Rockies were only three games out of first place. That injury would open the floodgates for Colorado, with 11 players landing on the disabled list since then.
Arenado returned last Thursday against the Dodgers, but including the 3-2 loss to the Braves in which his injury occurred, the Rockies have gone 11-32 since he first went down.
The good news is that the Rockies are expecting reinforcements like Carlos Gonzalez (left index finger inflammation) and Brett Anderson (fractured left index finger), possibly as soon as this weekend. But with the team in the NL West cellar by itself for the first time since April 1 after losing to San Diego, 6-1, in their series opener on Monday, Weiss knows time is running out.
"Every series is big generally speaking, but these are big in particular because we need to start winning series," Weiss said. "That's the bottom line."
If the Rockies don't show signs of life soon, the team will most likely emerge from the Midsummer Classic layoff as a seller with the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline right around the corner.
"We can't afford to continue to lose series," Weiss said. "That makes it even more important for these last two before the All-Star Break."
They will try to start their climb against Tyson Ross, the only Padre named to the All-Star Game.
Ross threw his first career shutout in his previous start, allowing no walks and just three hits against Cincinnati last Wednesday while striking out nine. Eighty-seven of his 120 pitches went for strikes.
"The thing that really popped out to me was the ball/strike ratio," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He repeated his delivery from pitch one to the last pitch of the game. … He pitched his [butt] off."
Colorado will counter with Franklin Morales, who is back in the rotation after being sent to the bullpen for all of June. On Thursday, in his first start since May 31, Morales allowed four hits and two runs (one earned) in five innings against the Dodgers, and he did not factor into the decision.
Padres: Gyorko takes step (literally) forward
Monday was a notable day of sorts for injured Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko, who took part in limited baseball activities on the field for the first time since going on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis in his left foot on June 6.
Black said Gyorko took some swings on the field at the team's Spring Training facility in Arizona and walked around and was even able to field some ground balls hit directly at him, though he had yet to be cleared to run.
Speaking of injured infielders, shortstop Everth Cabrera -- on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain since July 1 -- will rejoin the team in Los Angeles later this week, when he is expected to test the hamstring with some on-field drills.
Rockies: Teammates lobbying for Morneau
If Justin Morneau is voted into the All-Star Game set to take place next week in Minnesota, where he played for parts of 11 seasons and won an MVP Award, he would have quite the homecoming story. His manager and teammates in Colorado are doing the best they can to give it to him.
Outfielder Brandon Barnes wore a "#VoteMorneau" sticker on his back during batting practice on Monday, while his two slicks of eyeblack read "Vote" and "Mo." Barnes called Morneau "definitely" the no-brainer option for the Final Vote.
"He's obviously put up the numbers, road and away, [so] you can't really hold Coors Field against him," Barnes said. "He's a great player."
Morneau's numbers over the past month certainly don't dispute that. His 25 RBIs, 38 hits and .396 average since June 10 are all the most in the Majors over that span.
"He's had a great first half. He's one of our most consistent, productive hitters," Weiss said. "To have the opportunity to go back to Minnesota, where he spent most of his career, won an MVP … we're pushing hard."
"He's a guy who should be in the All-Star Game without the Final Vote," Barnes said. "That's not how it worked out, but I believe he'll be there."
• The Padres' 1.89 team ERA (34 ER, 162.0 IP) in 18 games since June 18 is the best mark in the Majors.
• Brooks Brown on Sunday became the seventh pitcher to make his MLB debut for the Rockies, pitching 1 2/3 innings of relief against the Dodgers.
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him at @WillLaws. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.