MIAMI -- First baseman Todd Helton has been mired in a month-long slump, but that doesn't mean Rockies manager Jim Tracy's confidence in him is wavering.
Entering Monday, Helton was hitting just .170 with a .191 slugging percentage in May and was homerless in his last 51 at-bats. Helton has seen his batting average dip to .219, the lowest it has been going into a game since the first week of the season, when he was hitting .211 going into a series opener against the D-backs on April 13.
Despite the struggles, Tracy still has confidence in -- and respect for -- Helton's hitting ability. When asked if he considered starting Jason Giambi, who has hit .414 with four homers in 29 career at-bats against Marlins lefty Mark Buehrle, Tracy brushed off the possibility, saying "the guy that plays first base for us, he's also a pretty good hitter."
"I've said many times, when you're dealing with a player of that magnitude and things aren't quite working out the way he'd like them to be at this time, he's also the same guy that's one good swing away from being the hottest hitter in the league," Tracy said.
Nelson working his way back from wrist issue
MIAMI -- Third baseman Chris Nelson is inching closer to his return to the Rockies' lineup.
Nelson has dealt with inflammation in his left wrist since April 25, when he injured it in Pittsburgh while diving to make a play. The injury did not immediately improve, and the Rockies placed Nelson on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to May 15.
"You don't want to be on the disabled list," Nelson said last week. "It's nothing you want to be proud of.
"But at the same time, I'm not really helping my team or helping myself. I just need to get it back healthy. Especially hitting with my wrist, and diving and all that good stuff, this is a learning experience."
Nelson is eligible for reinstatement on May 31, and manager Jim Tracy doesn't anticipate Nelson being out longer than that. Tracy said the third baseman will join the club's Triple-A affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, this week while they host the Oklahoma City RedHawks.
"I don't have the schedule in front of me, but he is going to play with the Triple-A club within the next day or so and begin his rehab," Tracy said.
Nelson had a history of various injuries during his Minor League career, and often received criticism for repeated injuries. Before landing on the DL, Nelson was hitting .219 with five doubles and seven RBIs in 24 games for the Rockies, including 20 starts at third base.
Cuddyer's success against Buehrle continues
MIAMI -- When manager Jim Tracy was setting the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Marlins, he glanced down at the career splits of Rockies hitters against Miami lefty Mark Buehrle -- and he couldn't believe his eyes.
"I saw something I've never seen before in 11 years -- that one guy in our lineup tonight has 104 at-bats against the starting pitcher," Tracy said. "I thought it was a misprint at first. I thought it was a misprint, but this definitely connotates history."
That hitter, of course, was right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who has fared well against Buehrle during his career, while Cuddyer played with the Twins and Buehrle with the White Sox.
Entering Monday, Cuddyer had hit .317 with three homers, 10 doubles and 11 RBIs when facing the veteran southpaw. The 104 at-bats are the most among any Rockies player against Buehrle, with the next closest being catcher Ramon Hernandez, who had faced the lefty 39 times.
Cuddyer's track record against Miami's soft-throwing veteran, combined with a 3-for-4 effort Sunday to break a 0-for-13 slump, was enough to convince Tracy to move Cuddyer into the cleanup spot, dropping Troy Tulowitzki to fifth in the order and Todd Helton to sixth. The move paid dividends early, with Cuddyer hitting a two-run double off Buehrle in the first inning Monday. Tulowitzki followed with a two-run homer.
The lineup change marked the fourth time Cuddyer has batted cleanup, and the Rockies are 2-1 in the previous three games. Despite the offense sputtering during the last few games, the club ranked seventh in the Majors in runs scored, and Tracy admitted he didn't want to make any "astounding" changes to the lineup, only subtle ones.
Colorado's skipper was also noncommittal when asked if batting Cuddyer cleanup was just for Monday, or if he would see how it plays out and consider it as a long-term change.
"If our club is going to jell offensively, it's not by me tinkering with the lineup every single day," Tracy said. "It's just an opportunity to give some guys the chance to relax a little bit and go out there and do their thing, and hopefully the waters will settle and offensively we can get to where we want to be."
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.