Players don't go on rehab assignments as much as they are exiled. It's not exactly Tom Hanks curling up with a volleyball in "Castaway," but it can be a lonely existence.
Extended spring is the Siberia of office cubicles, games played before a handful of fans on remote back fields. Wednesday, Michael Cuddyer laid the groundwork for the Rockies' victory Friday.
He faced the Angels' Jered Weaver five times in Scottsdale, Ariz., serving as the ideal dress rehearsal for his return to the lineup Friday.
Cuddyer served as a catalytic force, mashing a two-run double and a home run off Tim Lincecum as the Rockies ended their nine-game losing skid at AT&T Park with a 5-0 win.
"You get the monkey off your back. When you get a lead you are not playing to hold on," Cuddyer said. "You play to win."
Given the time, place and the opponent, this is arguably the Rockies' most impressive victory in 2013. The last time they were here in April, the Rockies were nothing more than bugs on the Giants' windshield.
San Francisco, whether they admitted it or not, was in their head. But three straight victories last weekend in Denver changed the psychology of what could turn into a juicy rivalry this summer. Starter Tyler Chatwood (six scoreless innings) and Cuddyer assured that Colorado lost none of its confidence.
Credit Weaver with an assist. The former All-Star Game starter has a similar repertoire to Lincecum, even if he's nearly a foot taller. Both are right-handers who rely on Vulcan changeups and vicious curveballs.
"It should help," Cuddyer said before the game.
Cuddyer barreled a double in his first at-bat, lining a shot down the right-field line. It scored two runs and sent a message that these aren't the same old Rockies who have served as a homecoming opponent at China Basin.