DENVER -- Rockies rookie pitcher Eddie Butler isn't sure what to do with himself when he's not rehabbing from right rotator cuff inflammation.
"I'm losing my mind," Butler said. "[Veteran reliever LaTroy] Hawkins came up to me yesterday and said, 'You look like a lost 12-year-old.'"
Colorado placed Butler on the 15-day disabled list after unexpected soreness set in after his Major League debut on June 6, a loss to the Dodgers, and later shut him down to do exercises to improve muscles around the shoulder area -- especially at the front and underneath the shoulder. The sub-scapula, the muscle that showed weakness, is a difficult one if a significant tear occurs. Surgery is not an option, because doctors would have to work through other rotator cuff muscles, and rehab can be six months.
But Butler returned to throwing this week, threw long-toss at 120 feet Wednesday and will move to 150 feet Thursday before throwing his first bullpen session since the shutdown on Friday. He'll throw another bullpen after the team returns from its road trip on Thursday, then he will face hitters a few days after that.
After completing those rehab steps, Butler hopes to go on a Minor League assignment. The Rockies believe stopping him and reworking his routine between starts will help him progress. Though Butler pitched well enough at Double-A Tulsa to make the jump to the Majors, he felt his sinker wasn't as strong as it was last year, when he posted a combined 1.80 ERA at three levels.
"I thought I was pretty ready [to make the jump to the Majors]," Butler said. "I don't think my sinker was where it was last year. That may be a little bit of what caused the soreness. Maybe I did things a little different this year than last year. I'm not sure if my arm slot is higher. It's just a little different, and the ball's not coming out quite the same.
"It's getting back. Since I've been shut down, it's kind of reset the muscle memory so I can try to get back to where I was last year."
Rockies encourage fans to write in Dickerson
DENVER -- It took injuries for Rockies manager Walt Weiss to regularly play outfielder Corey Dickerson. But his strong numbers -- .356 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs -- are making spelling out Dickerson a joyful exercise.
Creatively, the Rockies believe their fans can do the same.
Dickerson doubled in two runs during Wednesday afternoon's 9-6 loss to the Cardinals to complete a six-game homestand batting .520 (13-for-25) with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and eight runs. After his hit Wednesday, the @RockiesPR Twitter handle created a hashtag -- #WriteInDickerson -- as fans vote for the National League All-Stars.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 9:59 p.m. MT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Dickerson was one of six outfielders the Rockies carried on their Opening Day roster, but he was not placed on the All-Star ballot. However, the numbers say putting his name there isn't preposterous.
Granted, it's in far fewer plate appearances, but Wednesday lifted Dickerson's OPS to 1.073. It's slightly higher than the 1.068 OPS of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who has enough plate appearances to be listed tops in the league in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and is the leading vote-getter among NL players.
Last week, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw earned NL Player of the Week honors based on his no-hitter against the Rockies on June 18. But during the same period, Dickerson hit .500 and would have been a prime contender if not for Kershaw.
An eighth-round Rockies Draft choice in 2010 out of Meridian (Miss.) Community College, Dickerson hit .321 in 377 Minor League games before breaking into the Majors for 69 games last season. He hit .263 in '13, but this year is showing he's the same hitter he was in the Minors.
Dickerson is succeeding with his ability to reach pitches, many out of the strike zone, even a pitch or two he's had to golf. He's done it all his life, and he has shown he isn't afraid to hack at those pitches in the Majors. Being the same hitter has meant the same success.
"I try to do as much as possible with my aggressiveness; I do with what they give me," Dickerson said. "It's late in counts and you have to get what you can sometimes."
Dickerson also is hitting to all parts of the field. There is plenty of outfield room at Coors, but he's also hitting with power to all parts of the park. The ability to drive a pitch the opposite way gives him confidence to sometimes reach outside the strike zone.
"Even in the Minors, I've always got hits over the infield, and my power to the opposite field has increased the last few years," Dickerson said. "I feel I can hit it out of any part of the park. All I try to do is see the ball."
It would not be difficult to imagine Dickerson feeling at home among the game's best players. Weiss said he liked that Dickerson doesn't seem flustered, even if the opposing pitcher has a sterling reputation.
"I'll always respect people, but sometimes I'm talking to my wife and she's like, 'Oh, this guy is pitching today,'" Dickerson said. "And I'll always tell her, 'He's just a pitcher. He's got to throw it over the plate. He just throws the baseball and I hit it.'"
Righty Lyles working back from broken left hand
DENVER -- How does the Rockies' Jordan Lyles, a right-handed pitcher with a perfectly good throwing arm, deal with a broken left hand?
"I guess I'm a positive guy," Lyles said. "I'd rather have it happen to my left hand than my right hand. It's not going to take as long once I get this [splint] off."
Lyles (5-1, 3.52 ERA in 12 starts), who sustained the injury trying to make a tag at home plate on June 4 and stayed in the game three innings beyond that, will visit a doctor next Wednesday for his second X-ray. The first went well. Three weeks from now, Lyles will have another examination, and he hopes to have the splint removed.
Lyles has continued to throw each day, and he will throw off the mound while the team is in Milwaukee at the end of this week.
"We're going to stay ready, so when I get this thing [splint] off, the transition won't be too long," said Lyles, who said he can't return immediately after the splint is removed because he'll need to strengthen the left hand for fielding and hitting.
As unusual as the way Lyles injured the hand was, it's even more unusual that the Rockies have two right-handers out with broken left hands. Christian Bergman's hand was broken on a line drive Friday.