Jake Fox.

Right now he's riding the bench, but if he can find a position in the majors, his bat will make a contribution.

The first baseman was called up to Chicago last week. He was leading the Pacific Coast League in batting at .423 with the triple-A Iowa Cubs. His 17 home runs, 50 RBI,s and 40 runs also led the PCL.

Fox ripped a pinch-hit RBI double in his first at-bat last Wednesday, singled as a pinch-hitter Thursday, singled again as a pinch-hitter Friday, but was on the bench Saturday.

"He is stuck in that same netherworld as players like [Oakland's] Jack Cust," wrote Gordon Edes of Yahoo Sports. "Big minor-league bats whose defensive shortcomings leave them with marginal employment opportunities."

Fox has been knocking on the door for two full years, hitting a ton in the minors but locked out of the bigs.

"I'm short, fat, and I'm fighting against maybe some athleticism issues," he told Edes.

Zito barely above zero

Through 10 starts last year, San Francisco's Barry Zito was 1-9 with a 5.65 ERA. Opponents were batting .315 against him.

He made his 10th start of the 2009 season Saturday. He has thrown quality starts in six of his last nine games. He has a 4.02 ERA. Opponents are hitting .253 against him.

And he is 1-6.

RBIs don't grow on trees

Bench coach Jim Tracy took over the Colorado Rockies after manager Clint Hurdle was fired Friday. Even though Garrett Atkins has been struggling all season and was hitting just .193, Tracy took him off the bench and wrote his name into the cleanup spot.

"I watched this guy drive in 200 some-odd runs for a couple of seasons," said Tracy, who managed the Western Division rival Los Angeles Dodgers from 2001 to 2005. "You don't do that by accident."

Atkins nailed a two-out, game-tying single in the bottom of the ninth Saturday night, then raced home from first base as the Rockies rallied against Padres closer Heath Bell for an 8-7 win. Atkins was 1 for 4 again yesterday with a run scored in a 5-2 loss.

Noteworthy

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed lefthander Eric Stults on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained thumb on his pitching hand. They will activate righthander Hiroki Kuroda tonight. Kuroda missed nearly two months with a strained left abdominal muscle. . . . Carlos Beltran was out of the New York Mets' lineup because of a stomach virus, and fill-in centerfielder Angel Pagan left in the fourth inning against Florida with a groin injury. He was replaced in center by Jeremy Reed, who managed to finish the game. . . . Cincinnati will activate righthander Edinson Volquez (4-2) and start him today against the St. Louis Cardinals, Reds manager Dusty Baker said. . . . The Pittsburgh Pirates placed rookie lefthander Donnie Veal on the 15-day DL because of a right groin strain.

Contact staff writer Don McKee at 215-854-4611
This article contains information from the Associated Press.