CHC@COL: LeMahieu clubs a two-run homer to pad lead

DENVER -- From DJ LeMahieu's perspective, Thursday's callup from Triple-A was about 40 games overdue.

LeMahieu was recalled Thursday as the Rockies designated infielder Reid Brignac for assignment.

The 24-year-old infielder played 81 games with the Rockies in 2012, sticking with the club after a July callup and hitting .297 with two home runs and 22 RBIS. He was surprised when he didn't make the Opening Day roster.

"I was disappointed, yeah," LeMahieu said before Thursday's series opener with San Francisco. "I thought I played really well at the end of last year. At the same time, I think it kind of helped me to prove that I do belong here. I think that kind of fueled me to play better."

LeMahieu hit .314 in 61 games for the Sky Sox in 2012, and posted his best start at any level this year, hitting .364 (52-for-143) with eight doubles, a home run, 22 RBIs and 34 runs in 33 games.

"When I had to tell DJ we were sending him out [at the end of Spring Training], I told him he was a Major League player and he had every right to be disappointed and to be angry with the decision," manager Walt Weiss said. "He went down there and he took care of his business. I don't think it surprised anybody here, because DJ's a pro. He just went down there and did his thing and hammered away every day and put together a hell of a month and a half down there. It's a great job by DJ."

Brignac, meanwhile, played in 29 games for the Rockies, hitting .250 (12-for-48), with his first home run coming Wednesday against the Cubs. Brignac made three appearances at second, three at third, and eight at shortstop.

"Reid's a great pro and he's done everything we've asked," Weiss said. "He's handled himself really well here. He's been a great teammate. I think it was just a matter of DJ creating opportunity for himself. In some ways, the way Nolan [Arenado] did. DJ was playing really well. It didn't really come down to something Reid hadn't done, but more just DJ creating an opportunity."

Arenado was another player on the bubble coming out of Spring Training, and though he started the season in Triple-A, he has emerged as the Rockies starting third baseman.

"Over the course of a season, the dynamics of a team will change, and it will somewhat evolve," Weiss said of the move with Brignac and LeMahieu. "You break camp, there's some young guys that you feel like you might have to protect. Then they go out there and they prove that they can handle themselves and they don't need to be protected as much as you initially thought. I think that's happened with our club. It's ever-evolving."

LeMahieu spent most of his time at second base with the Rockies last season, with Josh Rutledge starting at shortstop after Troy Tulowitzki went on the disabled list. Most of his time in Triple-A this year has been at shortstop, a position he hadn't played since college. Weiss expects to use him at second, third, and short.

Francis lands on DL with groin strain; Scahill called up

COL@CHC: Francis strikes out seven in six frames

DENVER -- After quelling concerns about his effectiveness with six sterling innings of one-run ball against the Cubs on Tuesday, veteran lefty Jeff Francis went on the disabled list Thursday with a left groin strain.

"It's very disappointing," Francis said before the Rockies' opener of a four-game set with the Giants. "I've been struggling a bit since the first week of the year. To put an outing like that together was very rewarding, because you've done the work and the preparation to go there and pitch like that, so to have that taken away is very frustrating."

Francis incurred the injury early in the game, but after the length of the outing, he and the club were optimistic that he might be able to stay on track for his next start Sunday.

"I felt it in the second inning on a pitch," Francis said. "I didn't slip or anything. It was just a regular pitch. I came in after the inning and told [assistant athletic trainer Scott Gehret], and they wrapped it up. I was able to keep pitching, so I felt like hopefully it would get better quick. It was sore yesterday, and it's just as sore today. I didn't see any way I could throw a bullpen. [Head athletic trainer Keith Dugger] said about seven to 10 days. You never know with these kinds of things."

Francis, 32, is 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA in eight starts this season, and ranks second all-time among Rockies pitchers in wins (63) and innings pitched (1,031 2/3), trailing Aaron Cook in both categories. In addition to the groin injury, he also banged his knee sliding into second during Tuesday's game, but the knee is not an issue.

"The way he pitched, we didn't think it would be a long-term issue," said manager Walt Weiss. "But he's been really sore ever since, and particularly today. The fact that he threw a gem the other night and got through six innings banged up says a lot."

The Rockies called up reliever Rob Scahill for his second stint with the club this season. Scahill pitched three scoreless innings in the first game of an April 23 doubleheader with the Braves and is 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 appearances across 26 2/3 innings in Triple-A Colorado Springs.

The Rockies will need to make another move before Sunday's series finale with the Giants, when Francis was scheduled to pitch against Barry Zito. The likely candidate is Tyler Chatwood, who is scheduled to pitch Saturday for Colorado Springs. Chatwood is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts for the Rockies this season, and is 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA in five starts at Triple-A, including a shutout May 7 against Iowa.

Francis hopes to be back in the Rockies rotation when he's eligible in 15 days.

"That's what I'll work for," Francis said. "We all want to be out there on the field."

Garland seeking longer leash, increased pitch count

COL@STL: Garland goes five strong vs. the Cardinals

DENVER -- Starting pitcher Jon Garland was upset about coming out of the game after five innings Wednesday in Chicago, feeling that nearly two years after Tommy John surgery he's ready for deeper pitch counts.

Garland gave up three runs in five innings on seven hits and a walk while throwing 93 pitches.

"At some point you just have to say, 'Go,'" Garland said Wednesday about a pattern of being pulled early to protect him as he comes back from injury. "That's my personal feeling about it, but I'm not the one in charge."

Manager Walt Weiss responded to Garland's concerns, praising his pitcher for his competitive mindset.

"I want all our guys to compete," Weiss said. "I want our pitchers to stay out there for nine, or at least having the mentality to do that. I'm going to do what I feel like I have to do."

The Rockies entered Thursday's game with a 3.79 ERA and 17 quality starts in their first 40 games. They finished 2012 with a 5.22 ERA and 27 quality starts.

"There's some history to the philosophies here," Weiss said. "There's a track record. We also have four guys in our rotation who are coming off injury-riddled seasons where they missed most of the year last year. I don't think it's anything extreme what we're doing. Our starters have gotten a chance to go. They're typically in the 90-100 range, and that's plenty of time to get through a game.

"I want all our guys to be mad when I take them out," Weiss added, indicating no reservations with Garland.

Worth noting

• Manager Walt Weiss remained confident his batting order would come around, despite hitting a collective .210 on the road trip through St. Louis and Chicago while averaging 3.5 runs per game.

Dexter Fowler scuffled on the trip, going 3-for-20 after cooling down from a career-high 11-game hitting streak that ended May 3.

"Dex is grinding through some stuff now like a lot of our guys are," Weiss said. "The guys at the top of the order are paramount to an offense's success. Dex has always been an on-base guy, and he's unique in that he combines power with that ability to get on base. He's grinding through some things right now, but he's working hard. Our offense is too good to be down consistently. We've shown signs of life here over the last few days, but I just think it's too talented an offense to stay down too long."

• Marco Scutaro, the Rockies' 2012 Opening Day second baseman, returned as a member of the Giants on Thursday. Scutaro hit .362 in 61 games with the Giants after a midseason trade last year, and he paced them through the post season, winning NLCS MVP honors as he hit .500 (14-for-28) with six runs in seven games.

"I'm a big fan of Marco's, but don't tell him that," Weiss said. "I've always enjoyed the way he plays the game. He's well respected. The guys here know him and they have a lot of respect for him, and the league respects him because of the way he plays the game."

• Weiss said he was not opposed to the notion of increased use of instant replay in baseball, as long as it can be handled in a way that doesn't disrupt the flow of the game.

"I'm open to more conversation about getting it right," Weiss said. "There are plays that are difficult to see with the naked eye."