CHICAGO -- For now, the Rockies are still counting on right-hander Juan Nicasio in their starting rotation.
Nicasio gave up five runs in the first two innings of Monday night's 5-1 loss to the Cubs. But he settled down and completed six innings -- his longest outing since his first start of the season. The early pitches were hit hard, and the Alfonso Soriano homer was a hanging slider. But he accomplished being in the strike zone.
"Juan is still in play," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We're always evaluating ways to make our club better. We haven't made any decisions on the rotation. We haven't made any moves, so the rotation at this point is still intact."
Nicasio is 3-1 with a 5.19 ERA. Even in some of his wins, his lack of innings has been scrutinized.
Oswalt sharp on journey back to Majors
CHICAGO -- Veteran right-hander Roy Oswalt's fastball and his overall pitch mix was better in his second extended spring training outing on Tuesday than it was in his first. If all goes well in his next outing on Saturday, Oswalt likely will join Double-A Tulsa as he works his way toward a return to the Majors.
Oswalt threw 64 pitches over four innings Tuesday, and is scheduled for five innings and 75 pitches on Saturday.
"He had a better fastball, and his stuff was better, also," said Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright, who had not spoken to Oswalt, but received a report on the outing.
Oswalt, a three-time All-Star, signed with the Rockies on May 3.
Fowler looking to regain his hitting stroke
CHICAGO -- Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler spent a beautiful 80-degree afternoon at Wrigley Field taking easy swings, hoping to regain his effectiveness.
Fowler sat out Monday night's 5-1 loss to the Cubs, but returned Tuesday and hit second, behind Eric Young Jr. Fowler often hits leadoff.
Since suffering right hip flexor soreness and coming out of a May 3 game against the Rays, Fowler was 2-for-26 before Tuesday. The game in which he was hurt was the end of his career-best 11-game hitting streak. He also has eight home runs, five below his career high, but none have come since the bump.
Fowler sat out the day after the injury, which occurred when he collided with Rays first baseman Sean Rodriguez after a bunt attempt, and has played regularly since. Fowler, who has also fouled a pitch off his left foot and been hit by pitches on his hands and his right knee, said pain is not the problem.
"I don't think the injury had anything to do with it," Fowler said. "I think maybe the time off did. I'll see if I can get back into the swing of things. When it clicks, it's going to click."
Fowler and Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette said Fowler has ideas of what will bring his swing back, and he worked on those Tuesday afternoon. Several other Rockies participated, such as Nolan Arenado, Jordan Pacheco, Josh Rutledge and Charlie Blackmon.
"It's a loose time to try things," Bichette said. "It's not in your 'routine' time. Your routine time is preparation for the game. It's tough to try things in regular batting practice, because you're trying to get ready for the game. Early hitting is time to work on something in a relaxed atmosphere."
Arenado takes in atmosphere at Wrigley
CHICAGO -- Rockies rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado, just 22, came to town marveling at the history of Wrigley Field.
"I took a picture yesterday and sent it to my brother," Arenado said. "It's old school, and old school is pretty cool. I don't like the fact that we got beat [5-1 on Monday], but it was cool to see the place and see all the fans there."
Arenado generally has hit balls hard, although he entered Tuesday 3-for-13 on the road trip. Still, he felt he needed an early batting session Tuesday to get the feel of a controlled swing and choke off any tendency to overswing. For several rounds, he concentrated on hitting to the gaps or up the middle. Only toward the end of his session did he begin to swat balls into the bleachers.
"I'm just trying to stay within myself," Arenado said. "In the game, I'll let go and take my hacks, but I wanted to concentrate today on staying on top of the baseball."
• One of the reasons the Rockies had DJ LeMahieu start the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs was to give him regular time at shortstop, in case star Troy Tulowitzki was injured.
Not only has LeMahieu, who played mostly second base last season, been solid offensively -- .360 with eight doubles, five triples and a home run - he is playing shortstop to the Rockies' satisfaction.
"He's a big league player," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's handled it well, it sounds like. He's showing that he can play there, too."
• When the Rockies called up outfielder Charlie Blackmon on Sunday, they considered Tyler Colvin, who hit .290 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs in 136 Major League games last year. However, Blackmon, at .336 with 10 doubles, two triples and three home runs for Colorado Springs, earned the nod over Colvin, who is currently at .278 with four home runs, four double and two triples.
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.