BALTIMORE -- The ability to settle into a left-handed specialist role has done wonders for Rockies reliever Josh Outman.
Outman, who turns 29 on Sept. 14, shifted from starter to the bullpen early last season. But he didn't find his niche until manager Walt Weiss began gearing his role toward innings in which left-handers are predominant. In his last 23 appearances heading into Sunday, lefty batters were 8-for-35 (.229) with two doubles, and Outman had a 2.37 ERA. His last nine games, covering 7 1/3 innings, were scoreless.
"I've been fully immersed in this the whole season, but as of late I've really had a defined role," Outman said. "That's one of the things that's helped me the most. This is what I'm responsible for. This is where I'm expected to go in and help the team. Knowing that, I can mentally prepare for hitters, situations and scenarios."
Outman, a Phillies 10th-round pick in 2005, started 25 of his first 33 Major League appearances with the Athletics from '08-11 and made seven starts in 27 appearances with the Rockies last year. Committed to the bullpen, he is 2-0 with a 3.89 ERA in 44 games this season.
"The arm is pretty special as a left-hander," Weiss said. "He's got a good changeup for right-handers. With Josh, it was a matter of commanding the ball. He's always had the big arm, but you don't see the big misses that you saw in the past.
"If he's around the plate, a left-hander that throws 95 [mph] that can spin the ball, too, and miss left-handers' bats with his slider, those guys stick around a long time in this game."
Torrealba hit in mask with foul tip, exits game
BALTIMORE -- Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba left Sunday afternoon's game against the Orioles after being hit hard on the front of the mask by a foul ball, and the club is watching him before deciding when to return him to action.
After the Orioles' Nick Markakis fouled Edgmer Escalona's 94-mph fastball into the upper bars of his mask, Torrealba became woozy. Manager Walt Weiss and head athletic trainer Keith Dugger tended to Torrealba on the field. Torrealba was able to continue and handle Markakis' strikeout for the third out, but Charlie Culberson batted for Torrealba in the ninth.
The Rockies already are trying to usher Wilin Rosario through pain in both hamstrings, but Weiss said they are going to use every effort to make sure Torrealba is fine before playing him again.
"He was a little wobbly, so I didn't want him to have to go up there and take his at-bat," Weiss said. "We'll determine where we're going after that."
Although the ball hit at the forehead portion of the mask, Torrealba had pain, swelling and discoloration on the left side of his face because of how the impact drove the mask into his head.
MLB has a seven-day disabled list for concussions and other head trauma in hopes of avoiding repeat injuries. MLB and the MLB Players Association have established baseline testing for all players and umpires as part of the evaluation effort. Torrealba said he doesn't think he needs the time off, and he passed initial tests. There will be a follow-up Monday, and the decision rests with the Rockies.
"I got smoked, but I'm fine," Torrealba said.
Dickerson shows potential after second callup
BALTIMORE -- The rapid success of outfielder Corey Dickerson could leave the Rockies rethinking their future roster makeup.
With first baseman Todd Helton expected to retire at season's end and right fielder Michael Cuddyer the logical candidate to change positions to replace him, the going wisdom inside and outside the organization is the Rockies need power in right. The preference would be a right-handed hitter.
But Dickerson, in his second callup, went into Sunday's start in left field against the Orioles batting .317 with two homers and eight RBIs. The belief is he will develop more power with experience. Dickerson, 24, believes he can forge a place for himself.
"I feel like I'm an everyday guy, and they think I'm an everyday guy," Dickerson said. "I think I can help this team with the way I play. No matter what, and I hope it's always with the Rockies, I think I fit in just as well as anybody."
Dickerson has had daily opportunities because of Carlos Gonzalez's right middle finger injury, which has kept him out of the lineup for the last two weeks. From Gonzalez's last game through Saturday, Dickerson batted .357 with a .400 on-base percentage, one home run, four doubles and two triples in 10 games.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said as long as Dickerson proves he can be an everyday player, the team can adjust its roster and lineup plan. He likes the way Dickerson, who has shown an ability to foul off difficult pitches to prolong at-bats, can swing with gusto even when fooled.
"He doesn't compromise bat speed," Weiss said. "I've seen that with some really good hitters, and that caught my eye with Corey this spring. It seems like he's always in position to take his 'A' swing. Those guys are usually really good hitters."
Dickerson, taken in the eighth round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Meridian (Miss.) Community College, could turn into a much-needed player development success story for the Rockies.
Several lower-round picks contributed during their recent playoff years -- Clint Barmes, 10th round, 2000; Brad Hawpe, 11th round, '00; Ryan Spilborghs, seventh round, '02, among them. Given the Rockies' lower-to-mid-market payroll model and their emphasis on player development, such success stories are necessary.
But the current roster is almost devoid of such surprises. Dickerson and center fielder Dexter Fowler (14th round in 2004, but a special case because he received second-round bonus money to turn down the University of Miami) are the only Rockies-drafted players below the second round on the current Major League roster. But his story shows how a team can hit on a such a player with homework.
At Brookhaven (Miss.) Academy, Dickerson was a baseball, football and basketball star. Dickerson threw 94 mph as a pitcher and played third base and shortstop before suffering a torn labrum his junior year. Dickerson shifted to the outfield then and played it at Meridian Community College, but he is still a work in progress there. Some of the players who Dickerson had outperformed before the injury became high-round Draft choices, so he always had confidence.
Dickerson needed that inner belief after his first promotion, when he hit .212 from June 22-July 10. He admitted being nervous and not having a routine that could carry him through the sporadic playing time he received.
"It was new for me," Dickerson said. "I'd never really struggled too badly. I struggled once or twice in Rookie ball trying to figure the wood bat out, but since then I'd never had anxiousness to be out there. At this level, you have to realize it's just the same game.
"You have to tell yourself to relax. You pray about it. It's really about the confidence you have in yourself. I let that take over."
• There was an oddity in the Rockies' lineup Sunday -- Helton as designated hitter. While one would think he'd have done it several times as his career advanced, he'd actually been DH just once -- June 23, 2007 at Toronto, when he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a walk.
• Weiss rested Wilin Rosario, who has been dealing with soreness in both hamstrings all week. Rosario went 2-for-4 with a home run and a double in Friday night's 6-3 victory over the Orioles as designated hitter, and 2-for-5 as catcher Saturday night. Rosario entered Sunday with a nine-game hit streak, and he was hitting .355 with seven home runs, 12 doubles, 31 RBIs and 27 runs scored in his last 44 games.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.