DENVER -- Seeking to add a right-handed bat to their lefty-dominated outfield mix, the Rockies signed Xavier Nady, who was recently released by the Royals, to a Minor League deal and sent him to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Nady, 34, was hitting .310 with a .382 on-base percentage, 11 home runs and 43 RBIs at Triple-A Omaha before receiving his release and signing Sunday with the Rockies. In 11 Major League seasons, Nady has batted .280 with 101 homers and 406 RBIs with the Padres, Pirates, Yankees, D-backs, Mets, Giants, Cubs and Nationals.
Nady plays first base, and they want to make sure he is healthy enough to play the outfield after a battle with plantar fasciitis that arose this year. If the Rockies call Nady up soon as expected, he will give them a veteran threat off the bench. The bench has been young this season, but contending clubs tend to look for veteran pinch-hit types of players.
"If you look at the complexion of our outfield, there are a lot of left-handed bats, so this adds a right-handed guy to the mix," said Bill Geivett, the Rockies' senior vice president of Major League operations. "He's performing very well at Triple-A for Omaha, so it will be interesting. He's a guy who has experience and we like how he is performing well.
"I think it's a really good move for us right now. We'll see how it goes and see how he plays, but he's done well in the past. His track record this year has been good, so we'll see. We'll see what our guys down in Triple-A think when he starts playing."
Among the Rockies' outfielders, regular center fielder Dexter Fowler switch-hits, and Michael Cuddyer is the only right-handed bat. They're carrying lefty hitters Corey Dickerson and Tyler Colvin, and two of the better outfielders at Colorado Springs -- Charlie Blackmon and Tim Wheeler -- bat left-handed.
Walker honored with bobblehead, first pitch
DENVER -- In one of the highlights of the Rockies' 20th anniversary celebration, Larry Walker, the 1997 National League Most Valuable Player and a player considered on the short list of the greatest in club history, was honored before Sunday's game.
Walker signed with the Rockies in 1995, the year Coors Field opened, and stayed until late 2004, when he was traded to the Cardinals and made his only appearance in the World Series. On Sunday, the Rockies invited him to throw the ceremonial first pitch and gave his bobblehead likeness to the first 20,000 fans.
When announced before the first pitch, which he threw to former teammate Vinny Castilla, the stadium played his walkup song -- "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne -- and fans stood in applause.
Reaching out to Walker is part of a season-long effort, partly sparked by the anniversary celebration and partly because new manager Walt Weiss -- the first former Rockies player to hold the job -- has reached out to stars of the past. Dante Bichette is the hitting coach, Castilla is a special front-office advisor, and the Rockies have had former stars Eric Young and Pedro Astacio serve as guest coaches and instructors.
Walker has worked fantasy camps for the Rockies in recent years, and whether at his home in Florida or the one he has kept in Colorado, he follows the club closely, at times texting broadcasters Drew Goodman and George Frazier during telecasts on Root Sports Rocky Mountain.
"It's different to turn on the TV and see Dante in the dugout," Walker said. "I was in talking to Walt and I told him twice to get out from behind the manager's desk before somebody gets in trouble. He stayed back there. It's hard to believe he's the manager, but he's the perfect guy for it.
"It's special to come back. I played 10 years here, so that's a lot of ballgames, a lot of good things that happened. I think my good outweighs my bad. I'm honored to be back here."
Walker did some instruction with the Cardinals after his career ended, and worked with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Weiss indicated during Spring Training he wouldn't mind having Walker back in the fold with the Rockies. Walker said he would consider coaching somewhere in baseball if the right opportunity presented itself.
Fowler out of lineup, but Weiss optimistic
DENVER -- Dexter Fowler was not in Sunday afternoon's starting lineup against the Giants, but manager Walt Weiss spoke with optimism about the condition of the switch-hitting outfielder's right wrist.
Fowler hasn't played since going 0-for-4 Tuesday at Boston. If Fowler is not healed enough to play Tuesday against the Dodgers, it's likely the Rockies will place him on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday.
"He's definitely better," Weiss said Sunday morning. "Hopefully with the off-day on Tuesday he'll be ready to go. We'll reevaluate him then."
Tyler Colvin started in Fowler's place.
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.