DENVER -- Rockies right fielder/first baseman Michael Cuddyer will play two days this week at extended spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz. If all goes well, he will rejoin the active roster Friday in San Francisco.
Cuddyer, on the 15-day disabled list with a bulging disk in his neck, said Monday that he is doing all baseball activities without pain and is ready for game action. Playing games in Arizona against Minor Leaguers offers more flexibility than the traditional Minor League rehab assignment.
He'll play Tuesday and Wednesday, take Thursday off and be ready to go Friday, as long as there are no setbacks.
"I'll get a lot of at-bats and freedom as far as playing the field -- maybe play five innings or seven innings, but still hit," Cuddyer said.
Cuddyer last played on May 8 before the neck problem flared. He had similar injuries in 2004 and '11 while with the Twins but was able to avoid the disabled list. Without the ability to DH with the Rockies, he had to be placed on the DL because National League teams have a greater need to have all their active players available.
Cuddyer is batting .319 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs in 31 games. First-year manager Walt Weiss has enjoyed becoming acquainted with Cuddyer.
"First of all, I didn't know much about him," Weiss said. "I watched him play last year from my couch a lot. But as soon as I got this job, everybody I talked to about our club, when I tried to learn about our club in the offseason, everybody talked about Cuddy and how important he is to this club, how much of a pro he is.
"So I knew that coming into Spring Training. He's everything that people have said about him. He's really valuable to our club. He's having a great year. He's a really productive player, means a lot to our team."
Fowler uses clear head to get back on track
DENVER -- After a lengthy slump, center fielder Dexter Fowler went 10-for-20 as the Rockies won three of four games against the Giants.
He raised his batting average from .254 before the series to .286 going into Monday night's opener of a three-game set against the D-backs.
Fowler worked on some swing flaws during an early hitting session in Chicago, where the Rockies played the Cubs prior to returning home to face the Giants, but since then he has simply cleared his mind.
"We try to leave the thinking up to [the media], ya'll think you're thinking," Fowler said smiling. "You stop thinking. You're thinking nothing."
During Sunday's 10-2 victory over the Giants, social media blew up with fans criticizing Fowler for not thinking when they thought he should have been.
Fowler opened the bottom of the third with a single and advanced on a balk by Giants pitcher Barry Zito. As hitter Carols Gonzalez took ball four, Fowler tried to steal third -- by no means by the book, especially with Troy Tulowitzki on deck and Gonzalez a left-handed hitter.
Fowler's jump was poor and he was thrown out, which meant he violated the time-honored principle of not making the first out of an inning at third base. The Rockies didn't score in the inning.
However, manager Walt Weiss has given Fowler the green light, and has backed that by not second-guessing him when such decisions don't work. Fowler has used the bunt in odd situations as well, sometimes advancing a runner, sometimes forcing the defense to make difficult plays. Sometimes it hasn't worked.
"You go whenever you want, nobody's going to be mad at you," Fowler said. "Fans can say whatever they want. If they can be mad, they can be mad. We know how to play the game.
"Sometimes you run into some outs. [Zito] was a little bit quicker. Sometimes on 3-0, pitchers are a little slower to the plate. We've played for 20-plus years, some of us almost 30. Let your instincts take over."
Lefty-swinging CarGo thriving against southpaws
DENVER -- It would seem to be a poor matchup -- the Rockies' left-handed-hitting Carlos Gonzalez entered Monday's game against D-backs sizzling left-hander Patrick Corbin.
Not only did Corbin enter 6-0 with a 1.52 ERA, but he had held left-handed batters to a .125 batting average. However, Gonzalez is not performing like a typical lefty batter.
Going into Monday night, Gonzalez's .386 batting average in 57 at-bats against southpaws was third-highest among batters with a significant number of left-on-left at-bats. The Royals' Alex Gordon was batting .429 in 63 at-bats, and the Rays' James Loney was at .424 in 33 at-bats.
The Yankees' Robinson Cano, the Orioles' Chris Davis and the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo each have four left-on-left homers. Gonzalez's three tie him with Gordon, the Tigers' Prince Fielder, the Reds' Joey Votto, the Phillies' Domonic Brown and the Mariners' Kyle Seager.
"At times, for a left-handed hitter, facing a lefty will get you going again, because it makes you stay on the ball longer," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Doesn't mean it's easy to do, especially certain lefties are going to be tough on every lefty.
"CarGo's approach has been really good against left-handed pitchers. So, yeah, I don't know if he's changing anything from the past, I think it comes down to he's just a good hitter."
• Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis, on the disabled list with a left groin strain, plans to throw a bullpen session Tuesday -- his first time pitching from the mound since he sustained the injury on May 14.
Francis has been throwing and working out to stay in shape. He said the groin hasn't recovered fully, but he is progressing.
The injury occurred in the second inning of arguably his best start -- six innings, three hits, one run and seven strikeouts in the Rockies' 9-4 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
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.