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KLEE: Are Rockies made of right stuff? We're about to find out

June 13, 2013 Updated: June 13, 2013 at 6:25 pm
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DENVER - Credit Walt Weiss for this much, at the least:

After witnessing one of the more bizarre ballgames seen at Coors Field in recent years, the Rockies manager didn't dive into woe-is-me mode.

Over nine innings, Weiss saw his three most important position players leave the game due to injury. Then he saw a relief pitcher balk home the tying run.

"Stuff happens," Weiss said after the Nationals beat the Rockies 5-4.

Know what needs to happen next?

Weiss must prevent this Rockies club from sliding into crisis mode. The rookie manager is getting his first big-time test as a big-league manager.

Stuff happens.

Boy, did stuff ever happen to the Rockies on Thursday.

Standing in the on-deck circle - yes, the on-deck circle - star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was drilled by a foul ball. CarGo left the game with a bruised foot.

Hold on, it gets worse, and weirder.

Troy Tulowitzki later suffered a rib injury that required an MRI.

"When he came off (the field), it was very evident he was done," Weiss said.

Dexter Fowler was plunked by a pitch and suffered a hand injury.

"It started swelling up," Fowler said in the clubhouse after icing his right hand.

Fowler joined Tulo and CarGo in the injury circle. For those keeping score at home, that's 49 home runs, 140 runs and 129 RBIs in the injury circle.

"You can't see that type of stuff coming," Weiss said.

Stuff happened again when Wilton Lopez was whistled for consecutive balks - in the same at-bat - that turned a 3-2 lead into a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning.

"I probably don't want to say anything," starter Jeff Francis said of the curious umpiring.

"You could say the first one was a balk," Weiss allowed. "The second one I'm not sure."

Translation: The second one stunk, but my wallet doesn't need a fine. Pitching coach Jim Wright thought it stunk and got ejected from the game. The umpire said Wright got tossed because the coach circled his ear with his index finger.

That's the universal sign for "Crazy."

The universal sign for a baseball crisis: losing three key players, for an unknown amount of time. CarGo and Fowler are day-to-day, Tulo is hopefully day-to-day.

"These aren't things you can plan for," Weiss said.

Let's keep this in perspective from the get-go. The crisis mode affecting the Rockies is a sandy beach compared to the real-life crisis resulting from these ruthless wildfires.

This is a baseball crisis, a wholly unimportant matter in life.

What Weiss has to figure out is how to keep the Rockies from sliding out of the NL West picture.

His players are big fans of the first-year manager. They appreciate how he allows athletes to be athletes. Weiss only bothers them with advice when they ask for it.

"He treats us like professionals," third baseman Nolan Arenado told me.

No one in the Rockies clubhouse could remember seeing a player injured by a foul ball while standing in the on-deck circle.

"I hit Tulo (once)," Fowler said. "He wasn't in the on-deck. He was in the dugout."

In his brief career as a manager, Weiss hasn't faced this much "stuff," and certainly not at one time.

"It's going to test our character as a team," outfielder Michael Cuddyer said. "Hopefully these injuries aren't as bad as they could be."

Stuff happens.

What's more important than losing a June series to the Nationals?

Learning what kind of stuff the Rockies, and their first-year manager, are made of.

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Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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