DENVER -- With the middle and ring fingers of his right hand taped together, Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez sat by his locker with his cherished bats just a foot or so away. It was agony.
The good news for the Rockies was an MRI exam Friday confirmed their diagnosis of a sprained medial collateral ligament in the middle finger. The bad news was that Gonzalez has been told not to swing a bat until the sprain -- which is defined as a slight tear -- heals. Considering he sustained the injury July 7 and played until last Sunday, there is no timetable on when healing will occur.
"Oh, man," Gonzalez said. "Nobody swings the bat more than me. That's what I love doing in this game. Even in the offseason, I can't sit at home all day, every day, and not swing the bat. I don't care if I'm not running or getting ready for baseball activities. I like to swing the bat.
"This is one of the hardest things for me. I think my honeymoon last year was the last time I didn't swing a bat. But when I'm at home, I always have a bat in my hand. I'm always swinging. I even go to the cage and take some hacks."
Gonzalez is due to come off the 15-day disabled list Aug. 20, but it is anyone's guess if he will be cleared to swing by then. At one point, Gonzalez feared it might be two weeks before swinging the bat, but he talked to head athletic trainer Keith Dugger and is ready to let pain be his guide.
"They don't want to put a time on it," Gonzalez said. "Right now we just want to let it heal. But you know the way I am. I want to be in there right now. But as soon as I feel good enough to be there, I will. I've been doing everything else except hitting -- running, lifting, all the stuff I normally do when I'm playing."
Cuddyer is Rox' Heart, Hustle Award winner
DENVER -- Outfielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer will be presented with the Rockies' Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Heart and Hustle Award at Coors Field before Monday night's game against the Padres.
It is the second straight year that Cuddyer has been honored. The award honors Cuddyer for his play on the field and charity work off it. According to the MLBPAA, which picks winners from each of the 30 teams and will announce a final winner Nov. 19 at the 14th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City, the award "honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game."
Each team has a committee of alumni players that picks a winner from each team. Now fans, alumni and active players will vote from the list of 30 team winners for the final winner. Previous overall winners are David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011) and Mike Trout (2012).
Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette will make the on-field presentation Monday.
For more information, visit www.baseballalumni.com or follow the MLBPAA on Facebook and Twitter (@MLBPAA, hashtag #HeartandHustle).
Fowler's thought after slide: concern for friend
DENVER -- Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler simply wanted to pick up his team Saturday night. He succeeded with a two-run single and later a hard slide into third base that knocked the ball out of the hand of the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez. Fowler was able to score on that play, which was the last run of a five-run inning in the Rockies' 6-4 victory.
But immediately after scoring, he said his concern was Alvarez, who sustained a laceration on his left index finger, which was bandaged immediately. Alvarez started Sunday's game against the Rockies. The two are friends from the youth travel baseball circuit.
"I was just trying to see if he was all right," Fowler said. "That's one of my guys. We used to play against each other. I played for East Cobb [outside Atlanta], and he played for the Bayside Yankees out of New York. We'd get together at the tournaments.
"We were supposed to hang out [after the game], but he got hung up. I hung out with Andrew McCutchen. 'Cutch' is my guy, too."
Fowler hopes the big inning has a carry-over effect.
"Guys know in their heads we can do it, it's just going out and doing it," Fowler said.
Rosario makes rare start at first base
DENVER -- With Todd Helton resting and Michael Cuddyer sick and unavailable to start Sunday's 3-2 victory over the Pirates, the Rockies' Wilin Rosario performed well enough in his second career start at first base and first this season.
During the last homestand, Rosario, the regular catcher, asked special front office assistant Vinny Castilla to work with him on fundamentals at first base. Castilla hit ground balls and worked with Rosario's general footwork. The goal was not a position conversion. Infield coach Stu Cole has also instructed him. Rosario said he just wanted to be available to play the position if the team needed him.
Rosario did not make anyone forget Helton in his seven innings, but there were no mishaps.
"I was a natural," Rosario said with a wide grin.
The first grounder of the game, by Jose Tabata to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, was a bit of an adventure. He seemed to just be watching the two-time Gold Glove shortstop do his thing before it dawned on him that he needed to cover first for the throw.
Rosario also made an awkward flip to first after fielding Jeff Locke's groundball.
Offensively, Rosario scored the winning run on third baseman Nolan Arenado's double in the seventh, then was replaced by Helton.
"It was funny watching him play over there," Arenado said. "He made a play in the hole and flipped it instead of throwing it. But, hey, he made his plays; he did what we wanted him to, so it was all good."
Manager Walt Weiss was happy Rosario made it without errors or injuries.
"He's got good feet and is a good athlete," Weiss said. "He did a nice job."
What he lacks in experience at first base, Rosario makes up for in enthusiasm. He was beaming while recalling that Helton told him he did well.
But asked if it was better to have an enthusiastic novice than an apprehensive one, Arenado thought for a second then picked an alternative answer.
"I'd rather have Todd," he said.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.