DENVER -- Roy Oswalt looked more ready than ever for the Major Leagues Friday night, tossing 8 1/3 scoreless innings in what was likely his final start with Double-A Tulsa.
Oswalt, a three-time All-Star with the Astros, gave up only five hits and two walks on 102 pitches, striking out seven. It was his strongest start in Double-A after he allowed just one run in seven innings Sunday.
"I think the plan is whenever we felt like he could help us, he's a piece for us," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "The next step is just figuring out when and where he fits."
It seems likely Oswalt will join the Rockies' rotation next week, possibly taking the place of left-hander Jeff Francis.
Tulo preaching positive message during absence
DENVER -- Not long after Troy Tulowitzki stepped into the Rockies' clubhouse Saturday, teammates stopped by his locker to offer hugs and words of support.
The disappointment was clear on Tulowitzki's face, but he was resolute in his first public appearance since he broke a rib Thursday diving for a ground ball. The injury will keep him out for four to six weeks during the heart of a season in which he was putting up Most Valuable Player-worthy numbers.
Tulowitzki said he felt immediate pain when he came up from the diving stop and knew it was more than a routine bruise.
"It was tough to take," Tulowitzki said. "I knew something was wrong when I was coming off the field. I couldn't run, I couldn't hit, I couldn't do anything and I knew there was a possibility it was broken."
The injury marks the latest hurdle for Tulowitzki in a career riddled by injuries, as he never returned from a groin injury that knocked him out at the end of May last year. Manager Walt Weiss said Tulowitzki had dealt with rib soreness before breaking the rib, but Tulowitzki said while it could have weakened the area, it was never a serious enough injury to keep him off the diamond.
Helping to ease the pain was that the injury came on an aggressive play in a tight game. This was not something he could have prevented with any type of precautionary treatment, leaving no room for regret.
"Originally, I was very emotional," he said. "I worked so hard to get back and have a good year, and team-wise we were doing good. But now, a day later, things start to sink in and you realize that this is still a good team that we are putting out on the field."
It did not take long after news spread of Tulowitzki's injury that the messages started pouring in from across the Major League Baseball landscape. They came not just from mentors and close friends like veteran slugger Jason Giambi, his teammate in Colorado for four seasons, but also came from more unfamiliar faces around the league, players with whom he had more bumped into than established tight bonds.
"More than anything, it showed that I go about my business the right way, because those guys wanted to reach out," Tulowitzki said. "Guys on different teams that I didn't even know really, found my number and texted me. So that meant a lot to me. I thank those guys. And I'll remember that and I'll reach out if guys get hurt, because I know it helped."
If the Rockies can somehow stay in the National League West race without a critical piece in the middle of the order and an outstanding infield arm and glove, Tulowitzki will be back to help with the second-half push. And he said he is confident this team has the talent to contend without him.
"It's not like some miracle is going to happen and we win a whole bunch of games because I'm back," Tulowitzki said. "We could easily struggle when I come back, as well. I believe in this team and I believe we will be right there when I do come back."
Fowler still struggling to swing bat, sits Saturday
DENVER -- Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler is still struggling to swing a bat after bruising his right knuckle when a pitch struck his hand on Thursday.
The injury kept Fowler out of the lineup for the second straight game Saturday, but manager Walt Weiss said he is making progress.
"Closer than he was yesterday, but he still can't swing the bat," Weiss said.
Fowler was on a tear through the first half of June, hitting .381 and slugging .643 with two home runs and seven RBIs. Fowler did appear in Friday night's loss to the Phillies as a pinch-runner.
Tyler Colvin made his second consecutive start in center field, and shortstop Josh Rutledge has taken Fowler's usual spot at the top of the order. Colvin made his rpesence felt, hitting a two-run homer in the first inning.
Betancourt progressing, but return date uncertain
DENVER -- It's still not clear how long it will be before reliever Rafael Betancourt rejoins the Rockies' bullpen as he recovers from a groin injury.
Betancourt is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Sunday, but said Friday he planned to throw a light bullpen session that day and again Sunday. He also said he will start to face hitters on Colorado's upcoming seven-game road trip.
"I don't know exactly when he's going to be back with us, but he's doing well," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "There's been no setbacks, he was progressing nicely and passing all his tests until now. We're just going to continue to move forward."
• Rockies manager Walt Weiss said the team is treating Tyler Chatwood's return to the mound Saturday like a regular start, and he will not be limited to a specific pitch count. Chatwood has not pitched since a June 3 start at Cincinnati, when he left after four innings with right triceps soreness.
• Josh Rutledge, recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs Friday with Troy Tulowitzki on the disabled list, moved back to his natural position of shortstop against the Phillies Saturday. He started at second base Friday, but DJ LeMahieu will take over there after sitting out the series opener.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.