Tulo leaves game early with tight right quad
All-Star to be checked out Tuesday; no MRI planned
ATLANTA -- With the Rockies already missing center fielder Carlos Gonzalez because of a bruised right wrist, All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki knew if he left Monday's 4-1 loss to the Braves when his right quadriceps tightened, the team would be in even more of a bind.
But the maturing Tulowitzki understood that a temporary bind is more desirable for him and the team than a long-term injury. So Tulowitzki left a game the Rockies needed, and didn't win, after four innings. But it's a long season.
Tulowitzki felt the tightness about halfway down the first-base line when he grounded into a double play to end the fourth inning. Rockies assistant athletic trainer Scotty Gehret examined Tulowitzki's quadriceps, which can be a spot of concern for the shortstop. In 2008, Tulowitzki missed 46 games with a torn tendon in his right quad.
Even being smart and getting out of the game as a precaution doesn't guarantee that the injury wasn't extensive. But Tulowitzki felt he made the right move. The injury in '08 was more extensive, and he had ignored warning signs. This time, he left the game and went for ice and electrostimulation. The Rockies did not call for an MRI exam.
"Just running down the line, it kind of grabbed me a little bit," said Tulowitzki, who has appeared in every game but one this season. "I had some quad things in the past. Tomorrow I'll see if I'm feeling a lot better or if I'm sore."
On Sunday, Gonzalez crashed into the center-field wall at Coors Field while making a catch during a 16-8 loss to the Royals. Gonzalez had knocked a three-run homer a half-inning earlier and had driven in a career single-game high six runs. However, it turned out Gonzalez had a right wrist contusion, and he is considered day-to-day.
After a May in which the Rockies went 8-21 because both Tulowitzki and Gonzalez slumped, either at different times or at the same time, the Rox went 14-13 in June as both began to find their hitting strokes.
Monday's loss, however, dropped the Rockies to 41-44, and any day without either or both is a day when the offense is challenged. Monday's loss was the opener of a seven-game road trip going into the All-Star break.
But Tulowitzki said sitting out games now, no matter how painful, would be the right plan.
"The thing is I've made the mistake of staying in and getting hurt more," Tulowitzki said. "I learned my lesson the hard way. When you feel something, get out of there and miss a game or two, three, four, whatever it is. It's better than missing months."
Tulowitzki said the root of the problem could have been planted a couple of days ago when he turned his ankle. He said it might have forced him to change his gait.
Elected to the All-Star Game by his fellow players for the second straight year, Tulowitzki is hitting .271 and leading the team with 17 home runs and 57 RBIs. Last year, Tulowitzki missed the Midsummer Classic because of a fractured left wrist.
CarGo breathing easier day after wrist injury
ATLANTA -- It would not be fair to Rockies center fielder Carlos Gonzalez to say his right wrist injury during Sunday's game against the Royals looked worse than it actually was.
The way he was rolling around on the warning track after hitting the wall at full speed to catch Brayan Pena's fly ball in the 16-8 loss to the Royals, many feared his wrist was broken. It turned out it was a contusion, which means he could be back soon -- possibly as early as Tuesday.
The collision knocked the wind out of him. A well-meaning Charlie Blackmon leaning close to check on him -- but breathing some of the air Gonzalez was trying to breathe -- didn't help, either. At any rate, the wrist is not that bad, and Gonzalez and the Rockies are breathing much easier. Gonzalez was in the dugout, but not in the lineup, for Monday night's game against the Braves at Turner Field.
"When you're running full speed and get hit in the stomach ... that's why it looked really bad," Gonzalez said. "I was trying to breathe."
Gonzalez played catch, testing the injury since he catches with his right hand. Rockies manager Jim Tracy said it was possible Gonzalez could play by Tuesday. Gonzalez didn't speculate on a return, but said he would not be out long. He just needs to regain strength.
He said he was having problems holding the bat. A left-handed hitter, Gonzalez lets go with the left hand at the end of his swing. That makes his right hand vitally important.
Toward the end of last season, Gonzalez took two cortisone shots to play through pain when he suffered a bruise in a similar area of his wrist. He continued to hit for high average and wound up leading the National League in hitting, but his power was compromised.
"The bat is always going to be on this hand, so we need to take time and see when I'm going to be able to swing again, but the good thing is it's not broken," Gonzalez said. "It's pretty similar because it's almost in the same spot [as last year's injury]."
The injury occurred just as Gonzalez, 25, had rounded into form. On Sunday, he tied a career single-game high with six RBIs, including a three-run homer the half-inning before the injury occurred. Since May 16, Gonzalez is hitting .345 with 13 doubles and nine of his 13 home runs and 31 of his 51 RBIs. His batting average is .296.
Gonzalez hit the center-field wall right where it came to a point, so it was a sturdy point, even with the padding. He also bruised the right wrist. Gonzalez said he knew he was in danger, but there was no other way.
"I know the wall is coming, but I'm not going to slow down," Gonzalez said. "If I don't catch it, I don't get hit. I wish I could say that, 'Don't get hurt.'"
"Maybe that's why I'm really good at what I do."
Gonzalez underwent an aggressive treatment program with ice and other methods to calm the inflammation on Monday. Gonzalez said he could pinch-run, but the problem is he slides head-first and simply can't change that.
Blackmon, the left fielder, was moved into the leadoff spot.
Blackmon gets to lead off in hometown
ATLANTA -- Rockies rookie left fielder Charlie Blackmon didn't have to wait long to have his first Major League at-bat in Atlanta, with 30 or more family members and friends from high school, junior college and Georgia Tech watching.
With regular leadoff man Carlos Gonzalez out with a bruised right wrist, Blackmon was elevated to the leadoff spot Monday night against the Braves. Rockies manager Jim Tracy admitted it was by necessity, but he has mentioned in the past that Blackmon could be suitable for the top of the lineup.
"It's not a total surprise," Blackmon said. "I've hit leadoff quite a bit in my career so far."
Blackmon recalled that Georgia Tech and Georgia would play for charity in a game at Turner Field each year.
"It was really awesome to play here," Blackmon said. "I was like, 'Man, it would be really cool to be here one day as a big-leaguer, not as some college kid playing in a big-boy stadium.'"
Garner gets long-awaited callup
ATLANTA -- Outfielder Cole Garner took the long path to the Majors.
The Rockies drafted Garner in the 26th round in 2003, the same year they made his teammate at LaQuinta High School in Garden Grove, Calif., Ian Stewart, their first choice.
Garner, 26, didn't receive the call to the Majors until Monday, when the Rockies sent down right-hander Clayton Mortensen to become a starter. Mortensen had been the Rockies' long reliever, and the team was carrying an extra pitcher anyhow.
Garner was hitting .340 (51-for-150) with seven doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 29 RBIs, 32 runs scored and three stolen bases in 36 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He also hit .355 (11-for-31) with 17 RBIs with runners in scoring position.
Garner said Stewart, who was the Opening Day third baseman but has been demoted because of a lengthy slump, helped him as he waited for his first Major League callup.
"We're pretty close," Garner said. "We hung out a lot -- a lot of baseball talk. We just kind of got back to having fun again. He was really excited. I think I was more in shock, so he was more excited than I was."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.