DENVER -- Right-hander Manny Corpas used to throw the biggest relief innings for the Rockies, when he served as closer for much of 2007 and '08. That was before elbow problems derailed his career.
Back with the Rockies after suffering an elbow injury in 2010, missing '11 and pitching for the Cubs last season, Corpas is pitching different innings, but they are important ones.
Corpas is one of the relievers the Rockies go to when the starter reaches the team's prescribed limit of 100 pitches. It can be a pressure-packed role. Most of the Rockies starters are pitching well these days, and the club can't afford a dropoff between the middle-innings reliever and the back of the bullpen.
Thus far, Corpas (0-2, 4.03 ERA) has made 12 of his 13 appearances in losses. Just once has he pitched with a lead and two other times he was on the mound with the score tied. But, generally, the scores are close, and Corpas is happy.
Corpas replaced Drew Pomeranz on Monday with two on and one out in the fifth inning of a 3-1 loss, immediately forced a double-play grounder and went on to throw 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
"The last couple of games have gone well," Corpas said. "The thing I'm trying to do is stay relaxed. I'm keeping the ball down and hitting the glove the way I did in Colorado Springs [when he started the season in Triple-A]. When I first came up here, I was hoping to have a big year and trying to do too much. Now, I'm trying to control myself and do my job."
Corpas, 31, said he approaches his inning -- often the sixth -- the way he did the ninth in '07, when he pitched for the Rockies in the World Series.
"What I say all the time is this is baseball, and you never know," Corpas said. "Every year is different. I'm coming in behind the starting guy, and if we're losing the game I have to be a two- or three-inning guy. But that doesn't make a difference. I can still help the team."
Rockies' offensive struggles not for lack of effort
DENVER -- Rockies All-Star Michael Cuddyer has the answer to the Rockies' recent hitting struggles.
"The answer is the season is 162 games and we ran into a little bit of a rut, and people tend to forget to look at who's on the other mound sometimes," Cuddyer said. "Overall, the results haven't been there with runners in scoring position lately, but it doesn't mean we're not trying to get them in. We're not going up there saying, 'Man, I hope I don't get this runner in from second.'
"The intent is there. The thought is there. Unfortunately, sometimes you don't come through."
It's doubtful that's the answer fans are seeking to the Rockies' poor July. The Rockies entered Wednesday night's game against the Marlins last in the Majors in runs and OPS in July, and next to last in batting average and on-base percentage.
There are no major lineup or personnel changes on the horizon. From top to bottom, the Rockies pretty much roll their eyes at the notion that the answer is rooted in emotion or a major change in strategy.
"You've got to make sure guys are taking their best shot, and all that entails -- preparation, pregame work, their awareness over the course of the game, their approach to the at-bats depending on the situation and the scoreboard," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "You want to make sure guys are doing what they can to be successful, and guys are.
"After that, there's not much more you can do. [Hitting coach] Dante [Bichette] has got a good rapport with our guys. They trust him. He's very knowledgeable. He's easy to talk to. He's doing what he can to get guys going and they're doing everything they can to get themselves going. Throwing stuff around does absolutely nothing."
Cuddyer said players need to make adjustments as games progress, but being less aggressive in the batter's box is not the answer.
"You look at all of Major League Baseball now, hitters are more aggressive, and it's because pitchers are more aggressive," Cuddyer said. "You don't see the 125 walks. The league leaders in walks are at 100, then it drops off really quick. If you've got four pitches per plate appearance, you're in the league leaders. For whatever reason, pitchers are attacking the zone more.
"We're not going to give them strikes. If we're swinging at bad pitches, rolling over every single time on every first pitch, swinging at second-pitch sliders in the dirt and rolling over, then that's a problem. We're swinging at strikes. We're not swinging at too many bad pitches."
Weiss said it comes down to confidence in a star-studded lineup.
"These guys are well aware of what they need to do," Weiss said. "If it was easy, anyone would do it. These guys prepare, compete, and the guys have a history of success. That's what gives me confidence they'll get it going."
Rosario takes practice reps at first base
DENVER -- After seeing that he wasn't in the lineup for Wednesday night's game against the Marlins, Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario decided to try something new.
Rosario asked Rockies special instructor Vinny Castilla, who was hitting balls to his son early in the afternoon, to start teaching Rosario how to play first base.
It's not totally far-fetched. In an emergency situation, the Rockies used Rosario at third base in three games for 4 2/3 innings, and he received a start at first last season. Although he made a dazzling play at third during extra innings in one of the games, those experiments were generally rough. But Rosario wants to be ready in case an emergency arises.
"I'd want to be able to play whatever position, in case they need me at some point," Rosario said. "I do it because I like to play every day and want to be able to help my team win. If they need me at some point, maybe they won't be afraid to use me.
"This just started today. I'm not thinking I want to change positions. This was my idea. I had the day off, and I had time."
Not only did Castilla have Rosario and his son work in foul ground on forehand and backhand plays, but he went over footwork on hard-hit balls and the set-up for throwing to other bases.
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.