Cargo Hamstring Strain Creates Interesting Decisions for Rockies
Carlos Gonzalez suffered what was described as a slight right hamstring strain in the Rockies 10-2 loss at Pittsburgh Wednesday afternoon. Manager Bud Black said taking Gonzalez out of the game was a precautionary move.
Before Friday's game, Black said Gonzalez showed enough improvement that he is remaining on the active roster, a move made easier by the fact Gerardo Parra appealed his four-game suspension that was supposed to start Friday for his part in an April 11 bench-clearing incident with San Diego.
If the Rockies were to decide to that Gonzalez needed to be disabled in the next day or so there are two bridges to be crossed.
One is financial. The other is deciding on the replacement.
The contract Gonzalez signed after spring training began includes a $5 million base salary with $1 million incentives for being on the active rosters for 125, 150 and 175 days. With the regular-season schedule considered to cover 187 days, if he was disabled and stayed the minimum of 10 days he would be within three days of failing to qualify for the first of three potential $1 million incentives for being on the active roster for 175 days.
With agent Scott Boras vocal about his concerns over the lack of a strong market for free agents in the off-season, the idea of Gonzalez missing out on one of the incentives will become an issue, at least with him, if not Gonzalez.
Then there is the roster situation.
And then there is the potential roster challenge if Parra has to begin serving his suspension.
If Parra is serving his suspension and Gonzalez stays on the active roster in hopes he will be healthy enough to return to the lineup in a couple of days, the Rockies will be playing with a 23-man roster that would include three outfielders -- Ian Desmond, Charlie Blackmon, and Michael Tauchman.
Desmond has started 19 of the Rockies 21 games, but 11 of those starts have been at first base. The other seven were split between left field (six) and center field (two).
Blackmon started the final two games in Washington, D.C., last weekend and all three games in Pittsburgh, but he sat out five of the six games prior to that with back spams (April 8) and then four games with right quad tightness (April 10-13). The Rockies did fly home after the Wednesday afternoon game in Pittsburgh and were off Thursday so that gave Blackmon a chance to rest the achy body parts, but the concern does remain about his health.
Tauchman has been used primarily off the bench. The rookie has appeared in 11 games, but has started only four, and is 1-for-20 with a walk and nine strikeouts.
So there is the question of if the Rockies can afford to be short an outfielder, in addition to Parra, or if they might need to bring up one of four candidates at Albuquerque -- Noel Cuevas, David Dahl, Raimel Tapia or Jordan Patterson.
Dahl hit .315 in 63 games with the Rockies after the All-Star Break in 2016, but his season was basically lost a year ago because of a stress reaction in his rib cage, that saw him never get to the big leagues and have his season officially ended on July 29 last year after appearing in only 19 minor-league games.
He showed hope in the spring, but the Rockies wanted him to at least open the season at Albuquerque to test his health. He went 4-for-9 in the Isotopes first two games, but then developed an intestinal virus and 10 games. He is 1-for-8 in two games since rejoining Albuquerque.
Cuevas is hitting .345 and provides a right-handed-hitting alternative. Tapia is in a funk, his average slipping to .235 because of a 6-for-36 struggle. Patterson, originally a right-fielder who is getting more time at first base, is hitting .240 at Albuquerque.