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Cuddyer hit by pitch, but believes he's OK

MESA, Ariz. -- Defending National League batting champion Michael Cuddyer left the Rockies' 7-5 win over the Cubs in the third inning on Wednesday after he was hit on the left shoulder blade by a pitch from right-hander Jeff Samardzija. But Cuddyer doesn't believe the injury is serious.

Cuddyer received attention from head athletic trainer Keith Dugger and briefly stayed in the game. However, after the next hitter, Carlos Gonzalez, walked, Cuddyer's left hand hung uncomfortably at his side as he jogged to second. The Rockies then removed him for pinch-runner Jason Pridie.

"He came in with a fastball, and it hit me right on the scapula," Cuddyer said. "On the field, I couldn't move it or lift it. I guess it got me on the nerve, so they took the precaution. I should be OK in a couple of days."

Cuddyer didn't believe an X-ray was necessary, but he'll have one if it doesn't heal quickly. After treatment and ice at the Rockies' facility, Cuddyer said he was able to move his arm without any difficulty. Dugger said the pitch hit a nerve, and he's hoping Cuddyer will be out for only "a day or so."

Last season, Cuddyer won his first NL batting title with a .331 average, earning his second All-Star appearance. The 34-year-old also tallied 20 home runs, 31 doubles and three triples, driving in 84 runs.

Samardzija said he wanted the pitch down and in, but he missed his spot.

"All my pitches down and in to righties have been so good all day, and I was looking for a good one there," Samardzija said. "First base was open, so it didn't do too much damage.

"He's a heck of a hitter and you know you have to make good pitches against him. We were talking about that in the dugout. He's a professional guy, so you've got to move both sides of the plate, up and down, and really be on your game with him. Hopefully, he'll be OK."

Manager Walt Weiss is counting on Cuddyer to be a big part of the team's offense.

Looking to beef up the top of the batting order, Weiss is using Cuddyer in the No. 2 spot. As a Twin from 2002-11, Cuddyer spent much of that time hitting cleanup. He has generally slotted from fourth to sixth in his two seasons with Colorado.

The Rockies are trying to piece together the leadoff spot, with several players taking their turns there. Weiss wants a veteran hitter who has the ability to adjust to situations in the second spot, but Cuddyer will be given more leeway than other two-hole hitters to swing away. Weiss is also looking for a hitter who can drive in runs when the lineup returns to the top of the order.

Colorado is experiencing early bumps and bruises in camp, and it's hoping the players all heal before the regular season.

Jhoulys Chacin, a candidate to start on Opening Day, is out with a right shoulder strain and inflammation, and he isn't assured of being in the rotation for the start of the season. Lefty reliever Boone Logan, signed to a three-year, $16.5 million deal, underwent surgery to shave a bone spur and have bone chips removed from his throwing elbow during the offseason. He's gradually working toward game action.

First baseman Justin Morneau, signed to a two-year, $12.5 million contract to take over for the retired Todd Helton at first base, is currently out with a stiff neck. Second baseman Josh Rutledge, who is hoping to earn playing time after seeing DJ LeMahieu take the starting job last season, is out with a left ankle sprain. Projected backup catcher Jordan Pacheco is resting a left shoulder strain.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.
Read More: Colorado Rockies, Michael Cuddyer