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With Padres, Diamondbacks out of NL West race, Rox can still threaten

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WASHINGTON, D. C. - As the major league baseball community approaches the All-Star game, the National League West Division is clearly taking shape.

With the current state of affairs, the Padres and Diamondbacks will likely watch things develop as outsiders. The Giants and Dodgers appear on a collision course to take the division outcome down to the final weeks in September.

The curious team in this equation could be the Colorado Rockies.

Off to a terrific start, the Rockies were tied for first in the NL West on May 7 with a 9-2 win over the Texas Rangers. Over the next month, the Colorado went 7-22 and after a June 10, 13-10 loss to Atlanta, the Rox essentially fell off the radar screen, found themselves behind the Giants and Dodgers in NL West third place and 11 ½ game behind San Francisco.

With just over a week to the All-Star break, the Rockies find themselves in a precarious spot. That’s not because of the ground to make up but to address a lengthening disabled list.

Starting with a 10-game home stand July 3 and leading up the All-Star break, the Rockies have a chance to challenge. Yet, injuries have compromised the last month. Since the start of the season, Colorado had 15 players on the DL, and currently, they have three position players, one key reliever and three starters on the DL.

“It’s tougher to win without your good players,” said shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, also the leading NL vote-getter for the All-Star game. “Once we get some of these guys healthy, that will give us a lift. Look, we will not quite and will not use injuries as an excuse.”

Heading into the All-Star break, Colorado has third baseman Nolan Arenado (broken finger), Michael Cuddyer (60-day DL, left shoulder fracture), Carlos Gonzalez (finger inflammation) and starters Brent Anderson (fractured left index finger), Jordan Lyles (fracture of third finger on his left hand) and Jhoulys Chacin all on the DL.

Add reliable reliever Boone Logan (left shoulder inflammation) to the DL list and Colorado players currently on the shelf, it can be argued, could form the nucleus of an all-star team.

Currently, manager Walt Weiss is going with five lefties in his rotation, and admitted before playing the Nationals Monday night, “I’ve never been associated with a team with five left-handers as starters at the same time.”

Prior to the Rox taking on Washington Monday night, Weiss sounded more like a member of the training staff than the field manager.

“No question, our pitching staff right now is being tested and that’s always a challenge,” he said. “A few guys could be back around the All-Star break, Anderson, for one. Arenado is close and he’s back hitting off the tee. Gonzalez is also close and once these guys are able to swing the bats, the rehab will come quickly.”

As far as division chances, Weiss says his team has a solid opportunity to challenge the Giants and Dodgers.

“In spring training, I said this was a tough division,” Weiss pointed out. “Once we get guys back who are on the DL, we’ll make a run. Look, we have a half-a-season left and there’s a long way to go.”

Their next big test comes about beginning Thursday night with the Dodgers. That’s when L. A. pays a visit to Coors Field for four games. One possible roadblock is slated for Friday night when the Rox take on Dodgers’ lefty Clayton Kershaw (9-2, 2.04 ERA), who no-hit Colorado June 18 and author one of the most dominant no-hitters in recent baseball history.

DIAMONDBACKS NOTEBOOK …

Diamondbacks’ outfielder Mark Trumbo began his rehab Tuesday night with the D-backs rookie squad at Salt River.

As the designated hitter, Trumbo went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

Right-hander Touki Toussaint, the D-backs first round pick in 2014, made his professional debut Wednesday night for the rookie D-backs against the Indians’ rookies at Salt River.

Elsewhere, Paul Goldschmidt has lengthening his lead over competitors to start at first base for the National League.

After the latest calculations, Goldschmidt has 2,582,955 over the Brewers’ Mark Reynolds (1,430,395). That represents a lead of 1.1 million votes, and the All-Star rosters will be announced his coming Sunday, nationally, on FOX television.

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