7/5/2014 5:02 P.M. ET
CarGo swings pain-free against live pitching
By Cody Ulm / MLB.com
DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez conquered his "biggest fear" Saturday by fouling off a few balls against the first live arm he's faced since undergoing finger surgery on June 10. After Gonzalez walked away pain-free from the 35-pitch session against Eddie Butler, manager Walt Weiss was encouraged enough to say "there's a real good shot we'll see him before the break."
"That was a good test for CarGo," Weiss said. "When he gets jammed or hits a ball off the end of the bat, it's very different from what it was before. He doesn't have any pain."
Before having a benign tumor removed from his left index finger, the lefty-swinging Gonzalez frequently experienced pain and swelling when not squaring up a pitch. Often, it would be so severe that his batting glove would not fit.
That wasn't anywhere near the case Saturday when Butler jammed Gonzalez on a pitch he fouled down the third-base line.
"I was really scared at the beginning because I didn't want to hit one ball off the end and get jammed and have that feeling that I was having before surgery," said Gonzalez, who was able to grip the bat better than he expected. "That's when [my finger] used to hurt really bad, but it felt really good. There was no pain."
Gonzalez will participate in another batting practice session Sunday. If he emerges without a setback, the Rockies plan on sending him out on a rehab assignment at that point.
Weiss didn't clarify how many games Gonzalez will require but did say he wasn't worried about ramping him up for a few games only to sit during the All-Star break.
"I'm not too concerned with that," Weiss said. "I think it will be fine if he can get a few games in before the break and then have a few days off."
Gonzalez was batting .255 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs before landing on the disabled list June 4. He doesn't anticipate it requiring too many at-bats before he's back in the swing of things.
"I've just got to get my timing back, and I'm sure that will take only a few at-bats," Gonzalez said. "So hopefully I'll go down to the Minor Leagues and get a couple at-bats then come back here."
Butler encouraged by 35-pitch session to CarGo
DENVER -- Outside of a minor blood blister, right-hander Eddie Butler (right rotator cuff inflammation) felt good following his batting practice session against Carlos Gonzalez on Saturday.
Butler threw 35 pitches, mixing them up and even getting the best of Gonzalez a few times.
"I threw a couple good changeups, one or two good sliders and one good curveball before I started blowing up my fingertip," said Butler, ranked as the Rockies' second-best prospect. "It felt good, especially with CarGo knowing what's coming. I was still able to get away with a couple. I know it's his first time seeing [velocity] too, so it's tough on him, tough on me."
All 35 pitches were consecutive without a break, and Butler said he felt fine endurance-wise. After he gets the blister drained, the next step is to throw a 45-50-pitch simulated game. He's looking forward to operating in a more realistic setting.
"I'll feel like I'll actually be able to finish a pitch without hitting [the screen]," said Butler of Saturday's batting practice environment. "I felt like a couple times I was pulling up a little bit."
The Rockies have been playing it cautious with Butler since he felt soreness in his pitching shoulder following his Major League debut on June 6. There was some optimism that he could make it back with a minimal stint on the disabled list before the team opted to slow down his throwing program three weeks ago.
Butler resumed throwing on June 24, and Saturday was another step in the right direction.
"He's pain-free and we're ready to amp him up and get him rolling," manager Walt Weiss said. "I think it won't be too long before we see him out there."
Tulo sits for second straight day with groin strain
DENVER -- Troy Tulowitzki's two-day absence from the lineup with right groin tightness is not being influenced by the Rockies' recent struggles. Even if the club were in the midst of a hot streak, manager Walt Weiss said the injury is serious enough to keep the All-Star shortstop on the bench.
"What he's feeling right now is legitimate enough that he wasn't going to be able to play through it regardless," Weiss said.
Weiss added that Tulowitzki was feeling "much better" compared to Friday. "It's possible he could be in there [Sunday], but I'd say it's more 50-50," Weiss said.
Tulowitzki was originally labeled day to day after straining the groin legging out an infield single in the sixth inning of Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Dodgers. Tulowitzki pleaded his case to Weiss and remained in that game, but the manager said he would have used a pinch-runner if Tulowitzki would have reached base again.
Tulowitzki has been exceptionally healthy this season, which has allowed him to lead the Majors in batting average (.350) and on-base percentage (.441). Much of that can be credited to Weiss' commitment to a more cautious maintenance program for Tulowitzki.
"He's pretty in tune with his body and some of the history he's had," Weiss said. "I try to be in tune with it also. It's worked well as far as trying to keep him fresh and staying out in front of some of these things. But he's pretty tight and sore so he could use a couple of days."
• Corner infielder Ryan Wheeler was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday to make room for left-hander Boone Logan, who as activated from a disabled list stint for left elbow inflammation.
In two stints with the Rockies this season, Wheeler hit .232 (13-for-56) with two home runs and 13 RBIs over 31 games. Logan had been pitching through soreness in the elbow until the Rockies placed him on the 15-day disabled list June 5.
Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.