LOS ANGELES -- Rockies infielder Jonathan Herrera's playing opportunities are sporadic and his chances at shortstop, his natural position, are rare.
But Herrera, who replaced Troy Tulowitzki in the third inning of Sunday's 4-2 loss to the D-backs, after Tulowitzki suffered a mild left rotator cuff strain, made the most of his opportunity with a highlight backhand play and strong throw during Sunday's seventh inning.
Herrera ranged to his right to backhand a Cliff Pennington grounder and make a twisting, leaping throw. It was the type of play the much bigger Tulowitzki makes with regularity. Teammates take to Herrera's energy, and the play gave the team a lift.
"Everybody was excited," Herrera said. "They know I can make plays like that, too. 'Tulo' has a couple of Gold Gloves. You can't compare with him. But I work hard, take a lot of ground balls during batting practice, and I've been working on it my whole life. I made that play a lot in the Minors.
"When I made that play, everybody felt happy. They were laughing in the dugout. Jordan [Pacheco, the first baseman on the other end of the throw] was like, 'That's great. You can make that play, too.'"
Herrera is employed because of his defense, but he has managed a .308 batting average and three RBIs. Herrera started Monday and batted eighth. Tulowitzki took batting practice indoors Monday and hoped to return Tuesday.
Tulowitzki takes BP, hopes to return on Tuesday
LOS ANGELES -- A day after suffering a strained left rotator cuff on Sunday, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki felt good enough to take batting practice in the indoor cage at Dodger Stadium.
Tulowitkzi was not in the lineup for Monday night's game against the Dodgers and he had about as much pain as the Rockies' training staff told him he would have, but it doesn't appear he will miss many games. Tulowitzki suffered the injury on a slide into home plate during the Rockies' 4-2 loss at Arizona on Sunday.
Tulowitzki called a return for Tuesday night's game against the Dodgers "a possibility."
The injury was to his non-throwing shoulder, so the concern is hitting.
During the batting-practice session, Tulowitzki passed a key test. He felt comfortable using his full swing, which ends with the bat only in his left hand. If he had been in pain or didn't have confidence in the health of the shoulder, he would have kept two hands on the bat through the entire swing.
Short flight turns into long night for Rockies
LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies' scheduled one-hour flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles after Sunday afternoon's game degenerated into a mess that led to the team not landing until 3 a.m. PT.
The flight was supposed to take off around 6 p.m., but two mechanical issues left the club waiting aboard the plane from about 6 to 7:45 p.m.. The Rockies had to switch planes, a process that didn't have them taking off until around 2 a.m.
"It was a tough night, with most of the guys getting to bed around 4 a.m.," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I was really impressed with the way the guys handled themselves. Nobody was happy about it. It wasn't fun for anybody, but the guys handled it really well."
At least right-hander Tyler Chatwood, Monday night's starting pitcher, didn't have the full effect of the fatiguing night. The Rockies sent him ahead to make sure he had proper rest. The Rockies decided not to take batting practice before Monday's game so players could have more rest.
But they had fun with it, at the expense of third-base callup Nolan Arenado.
Saturday night, when Arenado was called up, a driver was arranged to take him from Tucson, Ariz., where Triple-A Colorado Springs was playing, to Phoenix. But the driver made frequent stops and admitted fatigue, so Arenado's parents -- who happened to have been in Tucson and were following in another car -- took over the driving. Then Arenado's first flight as Major Leaguer turned into a logistical mess.
"Believe me, everyone was blaming it on Nolan," Weiss said.
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.