Notes: Holliday to play through pain
Rockies slugger missed two games with oblique injury
LOS ANGELES -- Left fielder Matt Holliday will play through his strained left oblique muscle as the Rockies meet the Dodgers on Tuesday night, with one game separating them from the National League Wild Card leaders, the Padres and the Phillies.
Holliday, an NL Most Valuable Player candidate, was hurting during the last week of a stretch of 11 home runs in 13 games. But by the last game, when he went 0-for-5 with some painful swings during a 2-1, 14-inning Rockies victory over the Padres on Friday, the pain had become too much and he sat Saturday and Sunday.
It would be a stretch, however, to say Holliday has healed. He described the pain as "not excruciating," and that it didn't hurt to stand and talk about it. Holliday, back in his third spot on the lineup card, is taking batting practice to keep his timing, but under the advice of trainer Keith Dugger, he will "save my bullets" for the game by holding back. Five pitches into a round of batting practice, Holliday launched a drive about eight rows into the left-field bleachers.
"I'm not going to say I'm 100 percent, but I feel good enough to go out there, let it fly and see what happens," said Holliday, who said he has done some resistance training, but not stretching in an attempt to gain strength without risking further strain.
"It's a great time of year and I really want to be out there. If it's playing with a little bit of pain, I'm willing to do that. This is why we play."
Holliday is hitting .337 with 36 home runs and an NL-leading 131 RBIs.
Ryan Spilborghs went 0-for-4 in one game and 3-for-5 with an RBI triple in the other in Holliday's absence.
"Close enough," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said of Holliday's condition. "We're confident in the fact that we're going to give him the opportunity to go out there and get involved in it.
"I think it would have been hard to not play him or to keep him out another day, but he's done all the things we've asked him to do -- the exercise, swinging the bat."
In addition to some pain, Holliday has to overcome a dicey history at Dodger Stadium. He is hitting .192 in six games this season, and .218 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 26 previous games at Chavez Ravine.
High-tech scoreboard watching: One key to the Rockies' recent success has been the ability to concentrate on manageable tasks, which means they don't watch the out-of-town scoreboard during their games. But Monday's off-day was different.
As the Giants scored a 9-4 victory over the Padres to help the Rockies' chances, Holliday admitted helping MLB.com's traffic while first baseman Todd Helton said he was in a car, but kept up via a friend's cellphone.
"Of course I was keeping an eye on it," Holliday said. "If they [the Padres] don't lose, we don't have a chance. We obviously need teams in front of us to lose, even if we keep winning. This is why we play, for an opportunity to go to the postseason."
The witness: Helton was the closest uninvolved witness to the strange confrontation at first base on Sunday, when the Padres' Milton Bradley suffered a season-ending knee injury while being restrained by manager Bud Black. Bradley was arguing with umpire Mike Winters, and Bradley said Winters called him a profane name.
Helton acknowledged that Major League Baseball has contacted him, but indicated he didn't say much then and didn't want to discuss it with a reporter.
"I don't want to talk about that," Helton said. "I'm not even concerned about that. I'm thinking about us.
"I have been contacted. I didn't go into any details about it."
Not a sweet home yet: Rockies second baseman Kazuo Matsui has established a U.S. home in Beverly Hills, Calif., with his wife, Mio, and daughter, Haruna, and says playing near his family relaxes him -- even if his batting average at Dodger Stadium (.053 in six games this year, .180 in 16 games career) does not show it.
Matsui entered the series with the Dodgers after a 1-for-13 performance in three games against the Padres, but he's not blaming a hamstring strain that cost him 10 games (Sept. 9-18) and still gives him pain. He is 2-for-2 on steal attempts and has made several strong defensive plays since his return.
"I'm not 100 percent, but I'm playing," Matsui said through his translator. "When I get a chance to run, I'm going to try to take that chance."
Up next: Right-hander Josh Fogg (9-9, 4.99 ERA) will start for the Rockies against right-hander Derek Lowe (12-13, 3.93) on Wednesday at 8:10 p.m. MT.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.