DENVER -- A small mechanical adjustment has paid big dividends for veteran reliever Matt Belisle.
"We've been getting him on his back leg and creating a load," pitching coach Jim Wright said. "He was just leaving the rubber too soon. Then you get more arm, you lose your angle and your confidence and your focus. It was just getting him back on his back leg and getting him a chance to get everything on time again."
Belisle was 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA in his first 12 appearances through April 26 with two walks, six strikeouts and 14 hits allowed in 11 innings. Since then, he had made five scoreless one-inning apperances entering Saturday, allowing two hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
As a result of the mechanical change, Belisle's velocity has increased to 93-94 mph, up from 89-91 mph earlier in the season and his curveball and slider are sharper.
Sick Barnes leaves Rockies bench shorthanded
DENVER -- The Rockies' unsuccessful attempt at a comeback in Saturday night's 8-5 loss to the Padres was hampered by the unavailability of outfielder Brandon Barnes, who came down with food poisoning on Friday night.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss was left with right-handed hitting outfielder Corey Dickerson and right-handed hitting infielder Charlie Culberson as his primary substitutes. As is the case most games, Weiss wanted to hold off on using backup catcher Michael McKenry as long as possible. With the Rockies going with 13 pitchers, any illness or injury is an issue.
It would have been nice to have Barnes, who is hitting .400 (6-for-15) with a double and a triple as a pinch-hitter, as well as .400 as a substitute (8-for-20).
"I don't know [what caused the illness], to be honest," Barnes said. "Something I had for dinner didn't sit well. I woke up at 3 in the morning throwing up.
"I mean, I told them I was ready if they needed me. But I had chills and stuff like that."
By game's end Barnes said he felt better, but a little weak.
Considering that Barnes barely slept and spent most of the wee hours of Saturday tossing up his meal, and spent the pregame hours wrapped in towels in a desperate attempt to regulate his body temperature and feel better, circumstances would have had to have been special.
Even without Barnes, the Rockies trimmed a 6-1 deficit through 2 1/2 innings to 6-5 by the end of the sixth. When Padres pinch-hitter Carlos Quentin hit a two-run homer with two out in the seventh and the Rockies went quiet, there was no need for Barnes to try to roll his sick body to the plate.
Weiss is not the type to call for bunts early in the game, but the short bench was yet another reason for him not to consider it when down, 6-3, with one out in the fifth and runners at first and second. The Rockies wanted a big inning, but Padres starter Robbie Erlin worked pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson into an inning-ending double play.
"We're not going to bunt at that point in the game," Weiss said. "We're down three. We're trying to go for a big inning right there."
Weiss happy for friend La Russa's new gig
DENVER -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss came up with Oakland when the A's were managed by Tony La Russa, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July for his managerial achievements.
La Russa on Saturday was named the chief baseball officer of the floundering D-backs. He will report to team president and CEO Derrick Hall and will oversee the entire baseball operations department, including general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson.
"I can't say I'm surprised," Weiss said. "I wish it wasn't in our division, because I know the Diamondbacks just got a whole lot better with him being there. I know Tony and how competitive he is. I think the toughest thing with him being away from the game is that there wasn't wins and losses on the line every day. I think he's been craving that, and it's great to see him back in the game. The game will be better for it. But like I said, I'm not thrilled that he's working in the NL West."
After retiring from managing in 2011, La Russa worked for Major League Baseball as a special assistant to Commissioner Bud Selig. Weiss was hired as the Rockies manager after the 2012 season and has spoken with La Russa often about the nuances of managing. They're likely to continue to talk, Weiss said, but not to the extent they once did about the game and handling personnel.
"We can talk about family, but that's where we draw the line," Weiss said.
Hawkins recalls opposing Wells' perfect game
DENVER -- Sixteen years ago Saturday, on May 17, 1988, David Wells threw a perfect game for the Yankees. It came against the Twins, whose starter that day at Yankee Stadium was LaTroy Hawkins, the Rockies' current closer.
That was one of 98 career starts for Hawkins, who moved to the bullpen in 2000. In the Yankees' 4-0 victory, Hawkins allowed six hits and four runs in seven innings with no walks and five strikeouts. He threw 123 pitches.
"We were real men," Hawkins quipped. "That's how we used to pitch back in the day.
Hawkins gave up a run in the second when Bernie Williams doubled and moved up on a passed ball and a wild pitch. Williams then homered in the forth before the Yankees scored twice in the seventh on a double by Williams, Darryl Strawberry's triple and a single by Chad Curtis.
While he was pitching, Hawkins wasn't really aware of the magnitude of what Wells was doing. It took a comment from a fellow Twins pitcher to alert Hawkins.
"I came in after the sixth inning and I looked at the board," Hawkins said. "And I was like, 'He's throwing a no-hitter.' And Bob Tewksbury, I'll never forget it, was like, 'Naw, Hawk, he's throwing a perfect game. '"
• Michael Cuddyer (left hamstring strain) played seven innings in right field and batted seven times Saturday in an extended spring game in Scottsdale, Ariz. In addition to tallying a single, double and home run, Cuddyer was hit with a pitch on the left triceps.
He will play a rehab game Sunday at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Cuddyer is scheduled to be activated Tuesday when the club begins a series against the Giants. He hasn't played for the Rockies since April 17.
• Catcher Wilin Rosario, who has recovered from Influenza B, went 1-for-4 and caught the entire game Friday for Triple-A Colorado Springs on a rehab assignment. He caught three innings Satuday and went 1-for-2 with a double. Rosario is expected to be activated Sunday when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list.
Jack Etkin is a contributor to MLB.com. Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.