Carlos Gonzalez the latest Rockies star mired in injury hell

Doug Pensinger

It hasn't been a fun ride over the course of the history of the Rockies in terms of star players staying on the field. It looks like we could be dealing with another unfortunate situation in that regard.

It's hard being a star player in the Colorado Rockies organization.

Larry Walker, who along with Andres Galarraga and Dante Bichette was the Rockies' star in the team's era of infancy, battled nagging injuries for years. Later, the back half of Todd Helton's career was sabotaged by a stomach ailment and back and hip injuries.

In the current era, the two players who are expected to lead the Rockies into the future -- Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez -- are dealing with debilitating injuries on what seems like a yearly basis.

Maybe I should have changed the opening sentence to "it's hard being a fan of the Colorado Rockies organization."

Tulowitzki missed a month earlier this season with a broken rib and hasn't really been the same guy since. He continues to get frequent days off, including one on Monday to rest his sore legs. We all know Tulo's injury history; he missed a chunk of games in 2008, 2010, 2011 and almost the whole season a year ago.

Gonzalez has been shut down at times due to nagging injuries in each of the past three seasons. This year, the All-Star outfielder suffered a finger injury in early July and tried to play through it for about a month before landing on the disabled list. CarGo appeared to be on his way back for the Rockies' series against the Dodgers this week after reportedly feeling good in a rehab appearance on Sunday, in which he went 1-for-3 with a walk.

However, Gonzalez was scratched on Monday after his sprained right middle finger flared up overnight, causing swelling that would prevent him from playing.

This setback, though not major according to Rockies trainer Keith Dugger, could end CarGo's hopes at returning this season. That's not a bad thing; an injury of this sort typically requires 8-to-10 weeks of rest to heal properly, and surgery won't fix the problem in its current state. However, it's what lies ahead that could -- and should -- have the Rockies and their fans worried.

Gonzalez will have to make adjustments to the way he grips the bat, and that could have an effect on his swing, which is one of the prettiest and most lethal things in all of baseball. Players like Todd Helton and Marco Scutaro have dealt with this injury in recent years, Dugger told Troy Renck of the Denver Post, and at least one of those guys (Scutaro) fully returned to form. However, Gonzalez has a much different swing than those two aging veterans; it's fast, it's violent and it does a ton of damage. And any tinkering with it has to at least instill some sort of fear that he'll turn into a different hitter.

We've already seen how adjusting a style of play in an attempt to curtail injuries affects what a player can do in Tulowitzki, who doesn't make all of the plays he used to at shortstop, though he still makes more than almost any other player at the position. Now, we may see it at the plate with the Rockies' other cornerstone player.

Sigh. The life of a Rockies fan.

Off-topic

Links

Baseball America's Matt Eddy compiled a list of All-Star teams and award winners as voted on by players, coaches, staff and beat writers in each league. Note the South Atlantic League's MVP and Most Outstanding MLB Prospect.

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