6/12/2014 2:20 A.M. ET
CarGo's injury called 'fatty mass with tentacles'
By Thomas Harding and Cody Ulm / MLB.com
DENVER -- Head athletic trainer Keith Dugger described the giant cell tumor removed from the left index finger of outfielder Carlos Gonzalez on Tuesday as a "fatty mass with tentacles."
Still feeling the effects of anesthesia when he saw the images, Gonzalez thought of food -- and not the appetizing kind.
"It was something really creepy," Gonzalez said. "It might be a Cheeto, because I eat too many Cheetos."
Later he compared it to a shrimp. Whatever it was -- and a pathology report expected by the end of the week could provide a final answer -- it's gone, and it's possible that Gonzalez could return in five weeks, if not sooner. He hopes to begin baseball activity shortly after sutures are removed in two weeks.
"I'm glad it's gone and it's not in my finger anymore," Gonzalez said on Wednesday night after returning to Denver, his arm in a sling but a smile on his face. "I've got to take it day by day, little steps, and just try to get back on the field when I'm ready."
Recurring swelling in the finger, which came and went mysteriously, forced Gonzalez out of the lineup on three occasions. It was a key reason why Gonzalez, who has started the last two All-Star Games, was batting .255 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in 52 games before being placed on the 15-day disabled list last week.
Dr. Thomas Graham, a hand specialist in Cleveland, performed the surgery to remove the mass.
"We're calling it a giant cell tumor -- it sounds scarier than it is," Dugger said. "Besides a cyst, it's probably the most common thing in a finger.
"But it had some branches off this little fatty mass that just didn't look right. We're not quite sure what it is. The one that comes off a little nerve, we're calling it a neuroma [a tumor, usually benign], and the other looks like possibly a blood vessel, a thrombosis that just kind of hardened up."
Dugger said that it's possible Gonzalez could sooner than five weeks, since the recovery time for such surgeries varies depending on how Gonzalez's finger feels when he begins hitting and throwing.
Gonzalez was encouraged.
"I was really happy they took all that stuff out of my finger," he said. "Hopefully, I can feel better when I start making contact again, and not be afraid to just let the swing go."
The decision to delay the surgery -- even though the swelling had been a problem for more than a month -- was simply because if the injury turned out to be minor, the surgery would have created more problems than the mass itself.
"It wasn't like when you get jammed, he has a bruise, and it hurts for three days," Dugger said. "Sometimes it would disappear completely, and he'd feel good.
"Normal swelling, in your hands and in your feet, doesn't go away within an hour."
If all goes well with the pathology report and the ensuing rehab, Dugger said, it's possible this issue will be behind Gonzalez.
"The doctor was real excited about possibly eliminating any other onset of this," he said. "But it was a larger piece than we thought. It's kind of like a fatty tissue with tentacles on it."
Dugger, who has been with the Rockies throughout the life of the franchise, could only shake his head at the number of strange injuries that have occurred this season. Michael Cuddyer fractured his left shoulder socket while diving for a ball -- an injury more common in football or extreme sports -- and pitcher Brett Anderson broke his left index finger when he hit a pitch off the end of his bat -- an injury circumstance Dugger had never seen.
"I don't feel sorry for us or the organization," Dugger said. "We just seem to have these ... I don't know how you can explain it, kind of freak-type incidents.
"These are not our normal injuries. My counterparts and peers, we talk all the time. They're like, 'What is going on out there?'"
Bullpen sessions next for Anderson, Chatwood
DENVER -- Left-hander Brett Anderson, out nearly nine weeks with a broken left index finger, and righty Tyler Chatwood, out for six weeks with a strained right flexor tendon, will throw their first full bullpen sessions on Friday, when the Rockies travel to San Francisco.
There is no official timetable for their return, although speculation has Anderson coming back in early July, Chatwood after the All-Star break.
Anderson said that he and Chatwood threw 16 pitches off a mound on Tuesday; Friday's will be formal bullpen sessions.
"It helps having a guy that's on the same program as me every day," Anderson said. "He can tell you if the ball is coming out of your hand the same or coming out better. It's good to have that person, with Chatwood, day in and day out."
Pitching prospect Winkler to have Tommy John
DENVER -- Right-handed pitching prospect Daniel Winkler will soon have Tommy John surgery, the Rockies have acknowledged.
Winkler left his most recent start after 3 2/3 innings at Double-A Tulsa, where he was 5-2 with a 1.41 ERA and on the big league radar, and underwent an MRI.
A 20th-round pick out of Central Florida in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Winkler led the Minors last season in strikeouts, with 175. This season he and another late pick, righty Christian Bergman (24th, 2010, out of Cal Irvine) made major strides. Bergman made his Major League debut on Monday and held the Braves to two runs in six innings.
Rockies send Bettis back to Triple-A
DENVER -- The Rockies weren't happy to see Juan Nicasio chased after 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday, but it did provide a pitch-off opportunity with a roster decision looming.
Relievers Chris Martin and Chad Bettis were the likeliest candidates to be optioned after left-hander Tyler Matzek was called up from Triple-A on Wednesday to make his Major League debut.
Manager Walt Weiss called on Bettis first following Tommy Kahnle's scoreless 1 1/3 innings. In his first appearance since being recalled on Monday, Bettis allowed three runs on four hits and a walk in one inning.
Martin took over in the seventh and struck out one in his scoreless frame, making Weiss' decision easy.
"It's just a situation where we had nine guys in the 'pen the last couple of days," said Weiss. "Someone had to go to make a spot for Matzek. Chad ended up being the odd man out."
Weiss refused to put too much stock into one rough appearance, but Bettis hasn't found success in the Majors all season, with 16 earned runs in 14 1/3 innings. Weiss is hoping Bettis can continue the success he found in Triple-A, where he's struck out 20 and given up five runs in 21 2/3 innings.
"To be fair, it was one outing for Chad," said Weiss. "We feel like he has made a lot of progress in his time down there in Triple-A."
Rox prospect Herrera homers twice in loss
On Wednesday, in a game that at times resembled a home run derby, the Rockies' No. 4 prospect, Rosell Herrera, hit his first two long balls of the season. But they weren't enough to secure a victory, as Class A Advanced Modesto lost, 19-6, at Bakersfield.
Herrera, ranked No. 85 on MLBPipeline.com's list of Top 100 Prospects, finished 2-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs. It was his first career multihomer game.
Herrera was the 2013 South Atlantic League MVP after hitting .343 with 16 home runs and 21 stolen bases for Class A Asheville. But he struggled early this season, limited by wrist injuries that kept him sidelined for more than a month. He returned to the Modesto lineup on May 31 and, in 10 games since, is hitting .400/.455/.600.
Overall, he is hitting .313/.347/.393 in 28 games this season.
Herrera's home runs were just two of eight hit in Wednesday's game. Bakersfield first baseman Marquez Smith and outfielder Jesse Winker, the Reds' No. 3 prospect and No. 91 overall, also launched a pair.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.