CarGo is a no go: Rockies lose Gonzalez to DL with finger injury

Thursday June 5th, 2014

(Photo: Garrett W. Ellwood/SI) Carlos Gonzalez has been dealing with tendonitis in his finger since last season. (Photo: Garrett W. Ellwood/SI)

Whatever you do, don't start counting the injuries to key Rockies players on your fingers, as those digits can be fragile. Already without Nolan Arenado due to a broken left middle finger, on Wednesday they placed Carlos Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list due to a recurrent injury to his left index finger that has sapped his production, thus adding injury to the insult of a five-game losing streak knocking them below .500 for the first time since April 17.

Gonzalez has been dealing with tendonitis in his finger since last season. On May 1, after homering off the Mets' Bartolo Colon, the 28-year-old leftfielder began experiencing swelling and pain, and since then, he's been in and out of the lineup, often yielding to mid-game replacements. Via's Thomas Harding, Gonzalez told reporters Wednesday, "I was taking [at-bats away from] a good guy that has been really hot like [Corey] Dickerson. … I think he's the best option right now to play. For me, I've just got to heal and be the 'CarGo' that everybody knows."

The inflammation in Gonzlaez's finger caused by a broken blood vessel has been so bad at times he can't fit his finger into a batting glove. The hand specialist he visited in Cleveland last week told him there's neither a surgical solution nor a clear indication rest will solve the problem, which — ouch — is worse when he makes contact with the ball. Also carrying over from last year is tendonitis in his left knee, so for the moment, he's not allowed to swing the bat or run.

Already slumping at the time his finger problem flared up, Gonzalez is now hitting .255/.307/.449 with eight homers in 212 plate appearances, for a 95 OPS+. That's well off last year's .302/.367/591, which produced a career-best 144 OPS+. Alas, that stellar performance was an abbreviated one, as he played just 110 games. He spent four weeks on the disabled list and missed a total of 34 games due to a torn ligament in his right middle finger. Such shortened seasons aren't new for Gonzalez, either. Since debuting with the A's in 2008, he has yet to play in more than 145 games in a season, and has topped 130 just twice.

With Michael Cuddyer back from the DL after missing a month due to a hamstring strain, the Rockies have the outfield depth to offset Gonzalez's loss. Between lefties Charlie Blackmon (.306/.345/.505) and Dickerson (.345/.398/.678) and righties Drew Stubbs (.317/.360/.471) and Cuddyer (.306/.355/.486), they boast a quartet of outfielders who are outproducing their injured star, giving manager Walt Weiss the option to mix and match. That said, Blackmon has cooled off considerably. After sizzling at a .374/.418/.616 clip in April, he's chilled at a .243/.274/.402 temperature since.

Blackmon's slide mirrors that of the team. Since going 16-12 in April, the Rockies are just 12-16; worse, they've lost seven out of eight and 15 of their last 21, not including a rain-shortened May 22 tie against the Giants. On May 23, just before that eight-game slide began, the team lost Arenado — who earlier this season reeled off a franchise-record 28-game hitting streak — to the broken finger, which could keep him out until the All-Star break. If there's good news for the Rockies here, it's that they're at home through June 12. They're an imposing 16-8 at Coors Field while scoring 6.56 runs per game, but they're just 12-21 on the road while scoring 3.67 runs per game. Their most recent road trip, which began with the game where they lost Arenado, saw them lose series in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Cleveland. At 28-29, they're third in the NL West, 8 1/2 games behind the Giants coming into Wednesday night's action.

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