San Diego - Character, not religion, is the critical factor in the Rockies' chemistry, according to the players. That explains why so many players reacted negatively to the portrayal of their clubhouse in a USA Today cover story in Wednesday's editions that stressed the importance of Christianity.

"It was just bad. I am not happy at all. Some of the best teammates I have ever had are the furthest thing from Christian," pitcher Jason Jennings said. "You don't have to be a Christian to have good character. They can be separate. It was misleading."

Todd Helton and Jennings were quoted supporting the article's premise regarding religion's role in the clubhouse. But both said they never were asked about religion, and were questioned only in general terms about the clubhouse environment.

"I wouldn't say it was accurate. (The writer) asked me about the guys in here and I said it's a good group. We work hard and get along well," Helton said.

The story stated that men's magazines such as Playboy, Penthouse and Maxim could not be found in the Rockies' clubhouse, but that Bibles were present. Several players read Maxim in the visiting clubhouse during the Padres' series this week. Two separate issues sat on the center coffee table Wednesday.

"I have never seen a Bible (out in the open) in our clubhouse," said pitcher Aaron Cook, who has led the team's chapel service during spring training. "Most of the guys on this team are Christians, but not all of them. And the fact is you don't build a winner around just Christians. If that was the case, everybody would be doing it."

Cook said religious beliefs do not play a role in how a team does.

"You need the best players. I think the story was an accurate portrayal of the front office (view of religion)," Cook said. "But as for the players, it was just way over the top."

Matt Holliday chose his words carefully when discussing the subject.

"(Religion) is important to me, but it's not how you put together a good team," he said.

Manager Clint Hurdle said he became more disciplined in his faith years ago - not three years ago as stated in the article - after he stopped drinking.

Asked what role religion plays in the team's roster construction, Hurdle said, "We look for men of character, men of skills. Their (religious beliefs) are not a question that is even brought up. That those have a common fabric with Christianity is not a coincidence. But values are the issue."

Footnotes

No Rockies player ranked in the first results of the all-star balloting, in which the top five vote-getters are posted at each infield position and the top 15 outfielders receiving votes are listed. ... Ryan Spilborghs started in center field for the third time in four games. Hurdle said he wanted to go with the hot hand. Spilborghs has a hit in each of his starts, batting from the second spot. Cory Sullivan, struggling with strikeouts, pinch-hit in the seventh inning and remained in the game as defensive replacement. ... San Diego's Vinny Castilla returned to the lineup Wednesday. He has been platooning with Mark Bellhorn at third base.


Rockies recap

The bottom of the order will be at top of the discussion items Saturday when manager Clint Hurdle, general manager Dan O'Dowd and assistant GM Bill Geivett mull potential personnel moves.

"We have been very soft at the bottom for some time. It's a concern," Hurdle said.

Catcher Yorvit Torrealba will return Friday and is expected to start. Hurdle hopes he can provide an offensive lift. Clint Barmes' status also remains a point of conversation. Barmes, however, had two hits Wednesday and is showing signs of breaking out of his six-week slump.

NO RETALIATION: After the Padres left Coors Field in April the reverberating theme was retaliation. Padres manager Bruce Bochy was upset that the Rockies plunked Brian Giles for taking out catcher Danny Ardoin on a slide at home plate. The Padres, however, didn't hit a batter in the series.

TOUGH TO STOMACH: Catcher Miguel Ojeda became the 11th member of the organization to catch the flu bug that has ravaged the clubhouse. He became sick after arriving at Petco Park. Reliever Ray King returned after missing Tuesday's game. "I feel a little better," King said.