Hammel to replace Marquis in rotation

Updated: July 22, 2009, 3:59 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- To fix a bothersome blister on his right middle finger, Colorado Rockies pitcher Jason Marquis tried everything from soaking it in pickle juice to taking more vitamin E.

Still, the blister remained a problem.

So Marquis is turning to an old-fashioned remedy: rest.

Marquis, who leads the majors with 12 wins, will miss his scheduled start Friday and won't pitch again until Tuesday night in New York against the Mets.

The Rockies are hoping the extra time will give the blister a chance to harden into a callus. Jason Hammel will take his spot in the rotation Friday night against the San Francisco Giants.

"I've never had this before," said Marquis, showing off the tip of his middle finger where the troublesome blister has developed. "It's a trial-and-error type of situation."

At the All-Star Game last week, Marquis sought out Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, who's had some experience battling blisters in his career.

Beckett gave him a list of suggestions, all things that Marquis has already tried. Marquis has also used zinc oxide, an infrared machine -- which he said promotes healing from the inside -- and the age-old baseball remedy of dunking his hand in pickle juice to dry out the blister.

No luck -- he remains in a pickle with the blister.

The finger began irritating Marquis shortly after his performance against the Seattle Mariners on June 13, waking him up in the middle of the night because of the throbbing.

Over his next few starts, Marquis tried to block out the pain, and it seemed to work. He's gone 4-2 since the blister surfaced.

But it wasn't healing.

He threw eight solid innings at San Diego on Sunday but had to use different grips to ease the pressure on the blister. Even more, he struggled to throw his slider, the best pitch in his arsenal.

"That's 65 to 70 percent of what I do," Marquis said.

On Wednesday morning, he had a talk with the coaching staff and informed them of the discomfort. He left it up to them to decide if he should pitch Friday night against the Giants, a team the Rockies currently lead in the NL wild-card standings.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy elected to take the cautious road.

"To go out there and pitch again on Friday, I can promise you that he'll tear it up," Tracy said. "It will take wear and tear again and possibly ... put us in a position where we're dealing with this much longer than we want to or want him to."

This week, instead of throwing sinkers off the mound, Marquis will toss spirals. He'll zip around a football, just to keep his arm fresh as the blister heals.

"If I feel one ounce of pain off of it, the throwing will stop," Marquis said.

The Rockies acquired Marquis from the Chicago Cubs in an offseason move, hoping he'd be a solid complement to Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez.

Marquis has been more than that, going 12-6 with a 3.49 ERA this season and making his first All-Star team. He's pitched deep into games on a consistent basis, logging 131 1/3 innings. He also has two complete games this year.

The Rockies are being extra careful with Marquis' blister, even with the Giants coming in for a three-game series. Marquis was supposed to pitch against Matt Cain on Friday night in a matchup of two of the NL's elite hurlers.

Bummed?

"Of course," Marquis said. "I don't care if it's against a team we're chasing or chasing us, or a team in last place. I don't like missing starts to begin with."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press