9/22/2013 12:52 A.M. ET
Blackmon taking advantage of playing time
By Thomas Harding and Ian McCue / MLB.com
DENVER -- The Rockies placed Charlie Blackmon in the leadoff spot Saturday night against the D-backs, marking his sixth time at the top of the order in the last 10 games. While he's not a classic leadoff hitter because walks aren't a major part of his game, he has hit .320 (8-for-25) with two doubles and a homer.
Blackmon has been the classic blocked player because the Rockies have Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer in their regular outfield. Injuries in 2011 and 2012 didn't help. However, with Gonzalez and Fowler having missed extensive time with injuries this season, Blackmon has responded. He went into Saturday with a .299 batting average, five home runs and 19 RBIs.
His ability to play all three outfield positions and move to various spots in the order could be a boon to his future. Last year the Rockies listened to offers for Fowler. With Fowler signed for next season at $7.35 million, meaning there is cost certainty for a team wanting to trade for him, Blackmon and the impressive Corey Dickerson would be possibilities to step in if Fowler is dealt.
If Fowler is back, the Rockies have an interesting situation. Most analysts believe they need a right-handed hitter, but Blackmon and Dickerson, both lefty swingers, have made cases for regular playing time.
A second-round Draft pick in 2008, Blackmon was a regular leadoff man through 2010 at Tulsa. The ability to bat first could help his career, whether it's with the Rockies or another team. But Blackmon said he's not narrowing his focus.
"If you perform well, there hopefully will be a spot for you somewhere," he said. "Then again, you can't start projecting the future. This isn't something that our new group of outfielders has been doing all year."
Going into Saturday, Blackmon had an extra-base hit in his last six games. His doubles in five straight games through Thursday afternoon tied a club record, established six times by Todd Helton, most recently in 2004.
It's a confidence-building finish. In May during his first callup from Triple-A Colorado Springs, Blackmon hit .240 and found himself returned to the Minors. Since his July 8 recall, Blackmon has batted .307 with a .322 on-base percentage, 16 doubles, two triples and four homers.
"At this point, I'm overall trying to be a better baseball player, whether it's running the bases or throwing -- it's a big-picture kind of thing," Blackmon said. "I think I have the ability to do a lot of everything."
Blackmon played last winter in the Dominican Republic, but will spend the offseason in his hometown of Atlanta.
Thumb injury puts De La Rosa's season in doubt
DENVER -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss indicated he would decide on whether to shut down starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa for the year on Sunday.
De La Rosa has pitched through a bruised thumb on his pitching hand since June 17, an issue that has kept him from going deeper into some games. The lefty was pulled after just two innings in his last start, a Sept. 10 loss to the Giants.
Weiss said after the Rockies' 7-2 loss to the D-backs that De La Rosa tried to pitch again Saturday -- when he missed his second straight scheduled start -- and it didn't go smoothly.
"Jorge tried to throw today," Weiss said. "Didn't go great, but we'll check in with him again tomorrow to see if he can make another start. "
De La Rosa has arguably been the best pitcher in the Rockies' rotation this year. He's posted a 2.76 ERA at home -- outstanding at hitter-friendly Coors Field -- and has tied a career-high with 16 wins. Those 16 victories are tied for third-most in the league, but after he picked up his last win Sept. 4 over the Dodgers, that marked was tied for most in the National League.
Earlier this week, he was optimistic that he would be ready for his next start Saturday. However, Collin McHugh had to pitch in his place, allowing six runs and 11 hits in five innings.
Cuddyer hopes to return to lineup Sunday
DENVER -- Rockies right fielder Michael Cuddyer didn't make enough progress to creep back into the lineup Saturday, but is hoping to return for the series finale against the D-backs Sunday.
Cuddyer sprained his left wrist -- his glove hand -- when he hit the grass after making a diving grab in Wednesday's win over the Cardinals and took swings in the cage before Saturday game.
"He's getting better," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "The plan was to take some swings off a tee today, we'll see how that goes. But I think there's a good chance we'll see Cuddy pretty soon."
To speed up the healing process, Cuddyer used a special machine that attached to his arm and fed the medicine into the injured area.
With six games left after Saturday, Cuddyer fell one point back of Braves third baseman Chris Johnson in the race for the National League batting title. Cuddyer held the lead for several days, but Johnson's 2-for-4 day against the Cubs Saturday gave him the slight edge.
Rosario making strides behind the plate
DENVER -- Wilin Rosario is learning on the fly.
As a rookie Rosario struggled defensively, allowing 21 passed balls and making 13 errors in 2012. But Rockies manager Walt Weiss has seen promising improvement from his young catcher in his sophomore year.
"I think he's blocked the ball really well this year," Weiss said. "I think his game-calling has gotten better and I think he's put a lot of time into it. He knows how important the relationship is with the pitcher and he's working to get better there. Just overall receiving. He's working on it."
Rosario's numbers back up Weiss' words. His passed balls are down to nine in 106 games (he played 105 in 2012) at catcher this year.
Though Rosario hasn't played since Tuesday and missed his fourth straight start Saturday against the D-backs due to strained right calf, the 24-year-old believes he will play before the season ends Sept. 29.
With a heavy wrap on his injured leg before the game, Rosario planned to take swings in the cage and Weiss said he remains "a few days away" from playing. Though the wrap has eased some of the pain, his legs are far from full strength.
"Right now, when I'm walking, I feel it too," he said. "When I run, I feel it more or when moving quickly."
While the wear and tear of being an everyday catcher might increase the risk for injury, Weiss emphasized once again that the club doesn't plan to convert Rosario into a first baseman. He started at first in four game this year -- committing two errors -- to give his legs a rest and still keep his bat in the lineup.
"No, those are not conversations we've had about him as far as playing another position," Weiss said. "I think it'd be limited action at first base, like you saw a little bit this year."
CarGo believes he deserves Gold Glove
DENVER -- Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez hopes he can be golden once again.
Gonzalez is sitting out with a sprained right middle finger, and is unlikely to swing a bat by season's end. But he made 106 appearances in left field, was tied with the Nationals' Bryce Harper among National League left fielders with 11 assists going into Saturday's play and had several highlight-worthy plays.
Even with his current lack of activity (he went on the disabled list in early August, after playing for a month compromised by pain, and has been used as a defensive replacement this month), Gonzalez hopes he put together a good enough defensive resume to earn his third Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
Gonzalez won it in 2010, when it was an outfield award without regard to position, and last season as a left fielder. Gonzalez and many others around the Rockies felt he deserved it in 2011, but he bounced among the three positions and didn't play enough at one to receive enough votes.
"I think I have a chance," Gonzalez said. "I was leading the league in assists when I got hurt. That's the point -- your presence. The guys who choose Gold Glove, the managers and coaches, the guys who see you play every day. The third-base coach is always aware, telling runners, 'Don't run on this guy.'
"I played over 100 games in left. The year I didn't win a Gold Glove, you have to play at least 80 games in one position and I split my 140 games. But I have a chance this year."
In the range factor stat, Gonzalez ranks behind former teammate Eric Young Jr., who was traded to the Mets, and Alfonso Soriano during his time with the Cubs before he was sent to the Yankees. Neither is regarded anywhere close to Gonzalez's caliber. Only the Cardinals' Matt Holliday ranks higher in fielding percentage, .995, but Holliday's range is nowhere near Gonzalez's. Harper is tied in assists, but isn't anywhere near Gonzalez in range ratings and has a .966 fielding percentage.
Gonzalez took a cortisone shot earlier this week in hopes that his injury will heal without surgery. He said it will take several days to take effect, then he'll test it hitting off a tee. He would like to swing the bat in games, and if that doesn't happen before the regular season ends, he'll go to instructional ball in Scottsdale, Ariz. If the cortisone shot still doesn't stop the pain, he'll undergo surgery.
If there is an operation, he wants it before Nov. 1 so he can heal and rehab in time for Spring Training 2014.
Even if he does not have surgery, don't look for Gonzalez to play winter ball in Venezuela. It's an annual issue in his native country, but he said the Rockies do not want him playing and he'll abide by those wishes.
"I don't think it's possible because it's not on me," Gonzalez said. "If it's on me, I would like to go there and play. But the team asks me not to, and I have to go with them, because my biggest responsibility is here."
Dickerson proving to be a weapon on offense
DENVER -- Rockies rookie outfielder Corey Dickerson entered Saturday night's game against the D-backs with six triples -- tied for 10th in the National League -- in 63 games over two callups from Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Counting his time in the Minors, Dickerson has 20 triples in 138 games.
"He hits the ball hard and he runs hard right out of the box," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "So inevitably, he's going to run into some triples, especially in our spacious park. I think he's tailor-made for a park like this offensively, because he hits the ball into gaps, he hits it hard and I think he's going to be a guy that's going to rack up a lot of triples over the course of his career."
Dickerson, 24, an eighth-round pick out of Meridian (Miss.) Community College in 2010, said he simply is charging from the batter's box with the same aggressiveness he used in the Minors. He hopes to play his way into the starting outfield next season. The Rockies' lineup seems to have an opening for a productive right-handed bat, but the left-handed Dickerson, along with fellow callup Charlie Blackmon, could forge time for himself.
"It's all about earning a spot," Dickerson said. "Whoever is the best will get that spot. Who can help this team more will see that. If you're left-handed or right-handed, somebody will let you play and somebody will like you."
• Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki got a rest day Saturday, leaving center fielder Corey Dickerson into the No. 3 spot and Todd Helton hitting cleanup.
• Weiss held rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado out of the lineup Saturday after he played for the first time since Monday in Friday night's win. Arenado said his thumb held up reasonably well, and he will continue to play as he can.
"It's still bugging him," Weiss said. "I could tell the way he was swinging last night that it wasn't great.
"It will probably be hit and miss here the rest of the way."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.