6/11/2014 1:24 A.M. ET
Inflammation, but no damage, for Butler
By Thomas Harding and Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
DENVER -- The Rockies were relieved on Tuesday when an MRI on right-handed pitching prospect Eddie Butler revealed no structural damage in his right shoulder, just inflammation.
Butler was placed on the 15-day disabled list after his debut on Friday night, when he gave up six runs in 5 1/3 innings of a 6-1 loss to the Dodgers. He will rest for about five days, then begin strengthening and throwing.
Head athletic trainer Keith Dugger wants Butler to go on a rehab assignment before returning. Part of the reason, Dugger said, is that the Rockies want to be careful as they learn more about Butler and Butler learns more about himself.
Butler made his debut a little less than two calendar years after he was drafted 46th overall, as a supplemental first-round choice. The Rockies summoned him from Double-A Tulsa when injuries affected their rotation.
Dugger has not yet heard the results of an MRI performed on Tuesday on Tulsa right-hander Daniel Winkler, who is 5-2 with a 1.41 ERA in 12 starts and has been considered for a promotion to the Majors.
Winkler was a 20th-round pick in the 2011 but gained notice last season, when he led all of Minor League baseball in strikeouts, with 175, in 157 innings at two Class A levels.
Mass taken from CarGo's finger; biopsy to follow
DENVER -- Two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez had a small mass removed from his left index finger on Tuesday during an operation in Cleveland. More about his recovery and rehab will be known after a biopsy is performed on the mass.
It's unclear as to when Gonzalez will be able to return, since there will be healing time from the operation, and the results of the biopsy will be a factor. What was found in the finger, however, is usually benign.
"A type of tumor is basically what it is, within the sheath of the finger," Keith Dugger, the Rockies' head athletic trainer, said. "There's a hard substance underneath it.
"There are a couple of things it can be. The doctor is tending toward maybe what we call a neuroma, a scarring around a nerve, a big bundle, a wad of some sort. Also, there was a vascular component. So there was maybe the possibility he had a vessel that popped from the original swelling that he had. Maybe it calcified, or hardened. We really don't know until they do the biopsy."
Gonzalez experienced three bouts with sudden and unexplained swelling that forced him out of the lineup. On May 29, after the first two episodes, he met with hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham and his staff in Cleveland, but MRIs and ultrasounds did not produce a definitive answer. There was believed to be a foreign body in the finger, but even that wasn't certain. After another flareup last week, the Rockies placed Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list.
Not long after Graham performed the operation, Gonzalez tweeted:
Ahora a recuperarme de la cirugía. Los veo pronto desde el terreno! / Time to recover from surgery, see you soon! pic.twitter.com/EJeK7HBOyC- Car Go (@CarGoMedia5) June 10, 2014
Tuesday's surgery was termed exploratory, but once doctors were inside, they found the source of the problem and removed it, cutting diagonally from the webbing between the thumb and index finger and the webbing between the index and middle fingers.
If the mass is benign, Dugger said, "Typically, it's a couple of weeks for the tissue to heal, and then he can get back his strength and start swinging.
"It was a little bit more invasive, meaning they took out a larger piece than they thought or what the MRI revealed. But this way we feel we saved time going in there and getting what was in there causing the pain and discomfort that he had."
Dugger emphasized that although the issue can't be taken for granted, such issues are common.
Rockies broadcast analyst and former infielder Jeff Huson had a growth removed from the webbing between the ring and middle fingers of his left hand during his 12-season Major League career (1988-93, 1995-2000).
"It bothered me sometimes when I'd grip the bat because it pushed on the palm, in the webbing of the fingers," Huson said. "Then I got to the point where I tried to catch the ball and it hurt.
"I went to the doctor and said, 'There's something, and I can't get it to move or go away.' He tried to squeeze it and see if it would break up, and it never would. That hurt. Then they opened it up during the offseason. They took it out, did the biopsy and it was just a mass of stuff."
Gonzalez's mass has prevented him from doing his usual "mass of stuff," as he was hitting .255 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in 52 games.
Bettis brings two-seamer back to the Majors
DENVER -- To regain the Rockies' confidence, right-hander Chad Bettis first had to regain confidence in a pitch he'd abandoned.
Bettis made the jump from Double-A Tulsa to the Rockies' rotation last August but couldn't stick. After he allowed 46 hits and 21 earned runs over his first 36 2/3 Major League innings, the Rockies moved him to the bullpen.
At that time he decided to scrap his two-seam fastball.
"It was a little inconsistent at that time, and I didn't really trust it that much," said Bettis.
But his ERA continued to climb in the 'pen, from 5.02 to 5.64, and he didn't fare much better to start 2014. In his two stints with the bullpen to begin this season, he allowed 13 earned runs over 13 1/3 innings.
That's when the team sent him to Triple-A Colorado Springs with a new mission.
"Really, just getting my two-seamer back," said Bettis. "I've been utilizing that a lot down there.
"They thought it could be a weapon for me, and it had been a while since I had thrown it. Getting down there and then working on it, you could see it become a weapon for me."
With a new out pitch in his arsenal, Bettis found success in Triple-A, holding opponents to four runs over 19 2/3 innings, with 18 strikeouts.
The Rockies liked what they saw enough to call him back up to the Majors on Monday, when right-hander Eddie Butler (inflammation in right rotator cuff) joined outfielder Michael Cuddyer (fractured shoulder socket) on the disabled list.
Manager Walt Weiss plans on easing Bettis back and doesn't know what his role will be. Bettis, who also has a slider, a changeup and a four-seam fastball, didn't make an appearance on Monday, but when his number is called, he'll be ready to use that once-discarded two-seamer.
"Now that I've thrown it every day, I have full trust in it," he said.
Surgery not a viable option for Cuddyer
DENVER -- Outfielder Michael Cuddyer will spend six to eight weeks wearing a sling as he recovers from a non-displaced fracture in his left shoulder socket. Because of the need for rehab, he'll most likely be out until late August.
Keith Dugger, the Rockies' head athletic trainer, said the problem can't be repaired surgically because an operation would be too invasive, although he is soliciting various opinions.
The injury, which Cuddyer sustained diving for a ball while playing third base, is an uncommon one.
"I've been in baseball for 27 years professionally," Dugger said. "I've seen two [of these injuries] -- one from a motorcycle crash, and one from a freak diving accident [Cuddyer's]. I've talked to a few of my counterparts, and they've never seen one in baseball. Now, if you're in X Games or possibly football, you see these types of things."
Cuddyer will need physical therapy and strengthening before he'll be able to go on a Minor League rehab assignment.
The injury is a difficult blow for Cuddyer, last year's National League batting champion, who is in the final year of a three-year, $31.5 million contract. He was batting .317 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 31 games in a season that also saw him miss 25 games with a strained left hamstring.
Cuddyer has spent time on the disabled list each of his seasons in a Rockies uniform.
In 2012 he strained a right oblique on July 31 and played just three games the rest of the season. Last season he missed 14 games in May with an inflamed cervical disc in his neck. But after his return he fashioned a 27-game hit streak and earned a starting berth, as an injury replacement, in the All-Star Game.
Top prospect Gray tosses five no-hit innings
Rockies' No. 1 prospect Jon Gray threw five hitless innings Tuesday, but Double-A Tulsa's bullpen couldn't complete the combined no-hitter and Springfield came back for a 2-1 victory.
Gray, ranked No. 13 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, began the game by issuing a walk before setting down nine batters in a row. He walked two more batters in the fourth inning, but recovered to retire the final five batters he faced.
Gray worked efficiently and threw 83 pitches. He struck out seven batters and walked three.
Right-hander Ryan Arrowood relieved Gray to start the sixth inning and carried the combined no-hitter into the seventh. But with two outs in the inning, first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez drove a home run to left-center field, ending the no-hit bid and shutout.
Springfield's only other hit of the night came in the ninth inning when infielder Jacob Wilson ended the game with a walk-off homer off left-hander Kraig Sitton.
While the game didn't have the result Gray would have liked, it was perhaps the best start of his young career. The third overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft has spent his first full professional season with Tulsa and is 6-3 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 starts. He has struck out 56 batters and walked 16 in 64 innings.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.