6/14/2013 9:05 P.M. ET
Rutledge more at ease in return to Rockies
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
DENVER -- Infielder Josh Rutledge certainly hadn't caught fire when the Rockies sent him down to Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 22, but at .242 with five home runs, 13 RBIs and five stolen bases, he wasn't exactly cold.
However, the Rockies felt he needed to chill out a bit.
The Rockies originally called up Rutledge from Double-A Tulsa last year, and he performed well enough (.274, eight home runs, 37 RBIs in 73 games) at shortstop that he was penciled in as the starting second baseman this season. Despite the competitive numbers early this year, the Rockies saw a player who was pressing and at times struggling to learn a new position.
Rutledge, recalled Friday because of the rib injury to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki that will keep him down for 4-6 weeks, said he saw the Rockies' point. Rutledge hit .348 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 17 games while playing second and short at Colorado Springs, but more importantly, he caught his breath.
"That was the main thing, all the added pressure I was putting on myself was making it harder to perform," said Rutledge, who started at second and led off Friday night. He will be used at second and short in Tulowitzki's absence. "It's already hard enough without that being added. It makes it worse."
Interestingly, Rutledge went through the dreaded sophomore slump when he actually was a sophomore at the University of Alabama. He hit .369 as a freshman, dropped to .305 as a sophomore, then hit .360 as a junior before the Rockies selected him in the third round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
"I think it was the same way, you come off a good season, your expectations -- not necessarily yours but everyone else's -- they get to you if you let them," Rutledge said. "This year, I just put things in perspective and realized this is a game. You play hard, control what you can control. Another thing I did was just get away from the field and go fishing a few times."
At season's start, manager Walt Weiss wanted Rutledge to concentrate solely on his conversion to second, but that's not the case with Tulowitzki out of the lineup. Utility man Jonathan Herrera started at short Friday night. DJ LeMahieu, who began the season playing short at Colorado Springs but has played more second base in the Majors, and Rutledge all could see time there depending on matchups.
"The dynamics of our team have changed again, so you've got to look at your pieces a little bit differently," Weiss said.
CarGo feeling better, in lineup against Phillies
DENER -- After an unlucky bruise on a day full of pain and misfortune for the Rockies, things turned when left fielder Carlos Gonzalez woke up Friday morning.
Gonzalez, who suffered a bruised left foot when he was hit with a foul ball while in the on-deck circle during Thursday afternoon's 5-4 loss to the Nationals, woke up Friday morning feeling much better. Gonzalez was back in his usual No. 3 spot in the order for Friday night's game against the Phillies.
Last seen crumpled near the backstop before he finally limped down the dugout stairs on Thursday, Gonzalez was smiling and joking as he skipped through pregame stretching with his teammates Friday afternoon.
"I actually felt better waking up," Gonzalez said. "That's what I was hoping. Last night I was feeling a little pain in my leg so I iced a couple of times, so I actually was concerned about how I'd feel this morning. I feel fine. I'm actually better."
Gonzalez already has been playing through tendinitis in his left knee. So far he has been smart about it, slowing to a jog when it's unlikely he'll beat out a play at first base or reach a line drive. Some fans boo, but it is the clear strategy choice. With a .299 batting average and team-leading numbers for home runs (18) and RBIs (52), he and the Rockies will gladly endure ill-informed barbs from the stands.
"I just wanted to see that he could go out and play without hurting it any more," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's not going to be 100 percent tonight. But he said he was good enough to play. Putting his name in the lineup is huge for our club."
This is familiar territory. On Thursday, the Rockies lost shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who was vying for the National League lead in hitting and having an NL Most Valuable Player Award-worthy season, for 4-6 weeks with a fractured rib on his right side. Last year, Tulowitzki injured his groin in late May and didn't return. The Rockies lost a club-record 98 games.
Gonzalez suffered without Tulowitzki in the lineup last year, hitting .261 with five home runs in 57 games after the All-Star break. But there were other circumstances. Michael Cuddyer twice went to the disabled list with rib injuries, and Todd Helton, still considered a big part of the lineup, struggled before undergoing right hip surgery in August.
At times Gonzalez became frustrated because pitchers refused to challenge him with fastballs. But with Cuddyer (.337, 10 homers, 37 RBIs) in the cleanup spot behind Gonzalez, Weiss is convinced that opponents' approach to Gonzalez will be more conventional.
"It's very different -- I don't think they're going to be real apt to pitch around CarGo with Cuddy sitting behind him," Weiss said. "Cuddy has been one of our best guys in those situations all year. He's been as productive as anybody in those run-scoring at-bats."
Gonzalez admitted to pressing some last year and vows to avoid that this year. The Rockies entered Friday tied with the Giants for second place in the NL West, 2 1/2 games behind the D-backs.
"I've been in this situation before," Gonzalez said. "The last thing I want to do is put pressure on myself, try to carry my team by myself. I tried doing it before and it didn't work. I think it just stressed me and it affected me, affected my game, when I tried to do it by myself.
"That's why I tell you we need everybody's help and everybody to contribute."
Fowler out due to bruised knuckle following HBP
DENVER -- The Rockies didn't start center fielder Dexter Fowler against the Phillies on Friday night because of a bruised right ring knuckle that he injured Thursday when he was hit by a pitch against the Nationals.
"It's sore -- hand injuries are tough in this game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It's tough to play baseball with an injury to your hand. He's definitely getting better. Hopefully, he'll be available in some capacity [Friday night]."
This week the Rockies remade their roster to go with 13 pitchers, which led to the decision to designate Eric Young Jr. for assignment and go with four outfielders. Now two of the four are compromised -- Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez, who suffered a bruised left foot when he was hit with a foul ball while in the on-deck circle on Thursday. Gonzalez was in the lineup Friday, but with the foot and tendinitis in his left knee, he was going to be well under 100 percent.
Weiss said the Rockies considered calling up an outfielder from Triple-A Colorado Springs but held off, believing the outfielders will heal within a few days.
If there are further injuries to the outfield, utility man Jonathan Herrera is the first infielder that would see time in the outfield. He spent part of Thursday's game in left, and first baseman Jordan Pacheco finished the game in left when the lineup had to be further shuffled after shortstop Troy Tulowizki suffered a rib injury that will keep him out 4-6 weeks.
• Already having signed first-round pick Jonathan Gray, a right-hander from Oklahoma, for $4.8 million, the Rockies reached deals with several other picks from the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
Most notably, second-round pick Ryan McMahon, a shortstop from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei High School, reached a $1,327,600 agreement, first reported by Baseball America magazine. By signing Gray for well-below the slot for the pick as designated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Rockies were able to sign some of the upper-round high school picks. Gray and McMahon each will report to Rookie-level Grand Junction.
The Rockies also announced Friday that the following have reached agreements: Alex Balog, right-handed pitcher, University of San Francisco (Competitive Balance Round B); left-handed pitcher Sam Moll, University of Memphis (third round); right-handed pitcher Blake Shouse, Middle Georgia College (fifth); right-handed pitcher Konner Wade, University of Arizona (seventh); outfielder Michael Tauchman, Bradley University (10th); left fielder Sean Dwyer, Florida Gulf Coast University (11th); left-handed pitcher William Waltrip, University of Oklahoma (12th); third baseman Michael Benjamin, Arizona State (13th); right-handed pitcher Dylan Stamey, University of South Alabama (14th); left-handed pitcher Alex Rodriguez, Indian River State College (16th); right-handed pitcher Jerad McCrummen, Texas Tech (23rd); right-handed pitcher Matt Pierpont, Winthrop University (26th); right-handed pitcher Daniel Palo, Middle Tennessee State (27th); and outfielder Cole Norton, St. Mary's College (39th).
• According to the Bill Chuck "Beyond the Box Score" column, on June 8, when Rockies reliever Josh Outman faced the Padres' Kyle Blanks, it was the first time in Major League history that a pitcher and batter each wearing No. 88 faced one another. "You've got to get into the history books somehow," Outman said.
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.