MIAMI -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy has been looking for a chance to rest outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, his team's leader in home runs and RBIs. Gonzalez's discolored and swollen left index finger turned out to be the perfect opportunity.
The injury occurred on his third at-bat in Monday's 9-8 loss to the Marlins. Gonzalez didn't notice the injury at first, but he felt it after sliding into second on a steal attempt.
Switch-hitting Dexter Fowler, who was out of the lineup Monday, started in center, right-handed-hitting Ryan Spilborghs started in right and right-handed-hitting Melvin Mora started in left against Marlins lefty Nate Robertson.
It was a judicious time to rest the left-handed-hitting Gonzalez, who entered Tuesday's play 3-for-16 on the Rockies' road trip.
First home run surprised even Herrera
MIAMI -- Jonathan Herrera searched his locker, to no avail.
He had put the ball from his first career homer, a three-run shot in the eighth inning against the Marlins on Monday night, in one of his shoes. But the staff at Sun Life Stadium had relocated his locker, and somehow the ball must have popped free.
One can only hope the ball is found. But in a sense, it's a fitting development.
The home run would have meant more had the Rockies maintained the lead Herrera's homer brought. Instead, pinch-hitter Donnie Murphy's two-run shot for the Marlins in the bottom of the ninth gave his team a 9-8 victory.
Still, Herrera doesn't need the ball. The homer, off Marlins rookie Jhan Marinez, is a vivid memory for him, as well as Rockies teammates, none of whom can recall seeing him homer, even in batting practice. It was his first in 186 at-bats.
"I was flying out of the box," Herrera said. "A player like me never knows when he hits a homer. When I hit the ball like that, I ran like I was trying to get a double. When the ball went over the fence, I said, 'Oh, I got him.' We were ahead.
"It was a big moment. After I made an error [in the third inning], I knew any play could change the game. I was praying to have something good happen. After we lost, I thought, I hit a homer, but it doesn't matter."
Herrera, however, has made a positive difference for the Rockies since being called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 31. Forced into the lineup when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki suffered a fractured left wrist on June 17 and Clint Barmes moved from second to short, Herrera has hit .312 with 13 RBIs.
Herrera has hit safely in 24 of his last 26 games. Tulowitzki is scheduled to return July 28. With Barmes seen as a huge contributor -- even when he's not hitting, manager Jim Tracy raves about his defense -- it'll be interesting to see how the Rockies keep Herrera involved. Monday's error notwithstanding, Herrera has excelled defensively, and his situational hitting has helped win games.
"Opportunity with the injury of 'Tulo' was created for Jonny Herrera," Tracy said. "Once that happens, what you'd like to see a player do is respond to it. That's exactly what he's done to the point where I guess there will be difficult problems to have. When you have a good club, you'll have some of these difficult situations to make."
Pitching matchups delay Helton's return
MIAMI -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy has decided to wait a few more days before deciding whether to activate first baseman Todd Helton from a back injury.
The left-handed-hitting Helton was due to return Tuesday, but with the Rockies facing Marlins lefty Nate Robertson, Tracy considered bringing him back Wednesday against righty Ricky Nolasco. However, Tracy looked at Nolasco, Marlins starter Josh Johnson on Thursday and Phillies ace Roy Halladay on Friday and decided to have Helton wait a few more days.
Helton was hitting .246 with two homers and 16 RBIs before the injury, so Tracy opposes throwing him into the lineup against three accomplished power pitchers.
"With what it is that Todd's been dealing with, is that the best scenario, to just fire him back into the fray?" Tracy said. "I don't know if that's the smartest thing in the world for him to do. So we'll keep monitoring the situation.
"These are some special guys in our league. Easing a guy back in, realizing the situation, is something that's very much on my mind."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.