DENVER -- The Rockies swapped veteran pitchers on their roster Saturday, activating Jeff Francis from the disabled list in time to make Saturday's start against the Padres and designating Jon Garland for assignment.
"Jeff's ready to go," manager Walt Weiss said of the move to slot Francis into Tyler Chatwood's spot in the rotation. "He's going out there without limitations. It'll be good to see him back out there."
Francis, 32, started the home opener. He went 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA over 36 innings before going on the DL with a left groin strain. Francis made one rehab start for Triple-A Colorado Springs on June 6, allowing three earned runs on six hits in four innings.
His 63 career wins and 1,031 2/3 innings pitched with the Rockies both rank as the second most in franchise history, trailing Aaron Cook in those categories.
Chatwood, 23, came up from Triple-A when Francis went on the DL. Chatwood has pitched well in two stints with the Rockies this season, establishing a 3-1 record and a 2.14 ERA in six starts spanning 33 2/3 innings. He experienced triceps tightness in his last start on Monday, and the Rockies hope he can return to the rotation next week after missing only one start.
"That's the plan, so we'll see what happens," Chatwood said. "I got another bullpen on Tuesday."
Chatwood threw 22 pitches on Saturday, and said he felt "much better."
Though the rotation will go through some juggling, the net result is that Francis returns to his spot, and Chatwood stays with the Rockies in Garland's spot.
Garland 33, was signed late in Spring Training after spending most of the spring with the Mariners. He made the Rockies Opening Day roster as the fifth starter, and established a 4-6 record and a 5.82 ERA in 12 starts over 68 innings for Colorado.
"These decisions are never easy," Weiss said of the Garland move. "It's not like these are no-brainers. That was a move we felt we needed to make right now with Jon. Jon did a nice job for us. He was a pro. Even yesterday, he was really professional in our meeting. It's just one of those tough decisions you've got to make over the course of a season."
The Rockies' tentative rotation will now include Francis, starting Saturday, followed by Juan Nicasio (4-2, 4.76) in Sunday's series finale, Jhoulys Chacin (3-3, 4.59) on Tuesday to open the Nationals series, Jorge De La Rosa (7-3, 3.38) on Wednesday, and Chatwood for the series finale with Washington on Thursday.
Rockies recall outfielder Colvin; option lefty Outman
DENVER -- In a move that addressed both a banged up corps of outfielders and a need for length in an overworked bullpen, the Rockies recalled Tyler Colvin from Triple-A Saturday and optioned left-handed reliever Josh Outman to Colorado Springs to make room on the roster.
Colvin began the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs and hit .293 (56-for-191) with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 55 games. The former first-round Draft pick from the Cubs spent all of 2012 with the Rockies, hitting .290 with 18 homers and 72 RBIs in 136 games in the outfield and at first base.
"I know I'm a Major League player," Colvin said of the challenge of starting the season in Triple-A. "I knew I was going to get back. It was just when. That's the toughest thing. You could have a couple good games and think, 'All right, I'm back.' But it's not the way it works."
Colvin struggled a bit in Spring Training, missing the Opening Day roster, and he was passed over in favor of Charlie Blackmon when the Rockies called up an outfielder on May 12.
"It was tough," Colvin said. "It's a hard pill to swallow. It was a business decision. You gotta swallow your pride, and go down there and play baseball."
He has come on strong over the last few weeks, hitting .343 (22-for-70) with five home runs and 14 RBIs in his last 21 games.
"The roster evolves over the course of the season," manager Walt Weiss said, explaining the Colvin decision. "We had different needs when we broke camp this spring. Then Charlie came up and did a nice job. The fact that Tyler has performed well, especially lately, and the role we're looking at right now, the way our club sets up right now, that's why we chose to bring him up."
Colvin gives the Rockies a fifth outfielder, some necessary depth given the banged up status of the starters. Michael Cuddyer missed his second consecutive game with a left rib strain Saturday, and Dexter Fowler missed starts Wednesday and Thursday with a migraine headache. Carlos Gonzalez came out of Friday's game with an aggravated knee, but was back in the starting lineup Saturday. Fourth outfielder Eric Young Jr. has seen a lot of playing time as a result, but the Rockies had to use infielder Jonathan Herrera in his first professional outfield appearance when Gonzalez left the game Friday.
"He can play all three outfield positions," Weiss said of Colvin. "It's a power bat off the bench if he doesn't start. Our outfielders are pretty nicked up right now. It's not out of the question that he could play some first, but generally speaking, our need right now is in the outfield."
Outman, 28, started the season at Triple-A and was called up on April 19. He made 19 relief appearances for the Rockies and went 2-0 with a 4.94 in 23 2/3 innings, primarily as a left-handed specialist.
"With the way our bullpen is beat up right now, it felt like we needed more protection than the left-handed matchup guy [would offer]," Weiss said. "He's pitched in that long role also, but at this point in time, we felt like we needed more length. We've got a right-handed team coming up after this.
"That's another one that we really grinded about, who we're going to move to create that spot for Tyler. Josh will be back. When he's in our bullpen doing his thing, our bullpen sets up pretty well."
• Rockies right fielder Michael Cuddyer missed his second consecutive start Saturday as he recovered from a rib strain suffered in the last play of Thursday's series opener with the Padres. Cuddyer was trying to beat out an infield grounder, and he hit the ground hard on his upper-left rib cage after colliding with Friars first baseman Kyle Blanks.
"Hopefully it'll continue to get better in days rather than weeks," Cuddyer said, pointing out that it's a different injury from the oblique strains that cost him nearly two months of the 2012 season. "Last year was not even remotely in the same area, not even remotely the same injury. It's the other side, up, in the rib cage."
Cuddyer was on the DL from May 12 through May 24 with an inflamed disc in his neck.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.