Rodgers wants to help Rockies while he rehabs

March 12th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- This time, 2022 Gold Glove second baseman is going to spend his healing and rehab time with his Rockies teammates.

Just when he felt primed for an offensive breakout, Rodgers sustained a left shoulder injury while diving for a ground ball on March 6. The injury was originally announced as a dislocation, a shorter-term injury, but further examination revealed that Rodgers needed surgery to repair his shoulder labrum. He could miss the season, though he will fight to return.

Rodgers underwent a similar surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder in July 2019, which ended his rookie year. He learned that even if he is in a sling -- like the one he wore Sunday morning while conducting his first interview since the injury -- recovery is much better when he’s around the team and able to participate, whether it’s with peer-to-peer advice or deepening his understanding of coaching, scouting and analytics.

On Sunday morning, for example, Rogers went to the batting cage to watch No. 25 MLB Pipeline prospect Zac Veen -- a player he has mentored since the Rockies drafted Veen ninth overall in 2020 -- take batting practice.

“I don’t know exactly what I’m going to dive into, but I’m going to be at every home game -- maybe not as much on the road -- in the dugout studying, trying to be a player when I’m not playing,” Rodgers said. “I told Doogie [head athletic trainer Keith Dugger] and everyone, ‘I don’t want to go home [to Florida]. I’d rather be with you guys and feel more a part of the team.'

“When I had my right one done my rookie year, I’d played 25 games and [then] had surgery. I didn’t feel a part. Now I feel a little bit more established. People coming to me for certain things, I feel, is important. I want to feed any information I might have to whoever may need it.”

Briefly, the 26-year-old Rodgers thought he would return to playing in short order. Trainers popped his shoulder back into place after the play on March 6 and led him off the field, and initial strength tests offered hope. But the feeling didn’t last.

“When I woke up, I was like, ‘Woah,’” Rodgers said. “I was in a good amount of pain and not much external movement. I had a feeling. It felt exactly how they described the MRI. I had some decent tearing in there. But it’s all good now, though.”

Rodgers began 2022 with an .078 batting average in April. He started to climb in May and took off after hitting three home runs, including a walk-off, in the second game of a June 1 doubleheader against the Marlins. He finished the season having hit .266 with 13 home runs, and he felt 2023 would be the year he’d achieve offensive consistency.

The breakout with the bat will have to wait. Rodgers said he will be in the sling another three weeks before the next phase of rehab, then spend another 5-6 weeks working on the soft tissue before working toward overall conditioning. Even if it’s as little as three weeks, he wants to return.

For now, providing off-the-field steadiness will do.

“I’m going to do my best to live in the moment,” he said. “I’m still planning on playing that kind of role this year. Obviously, it’s a little more difficult not being able to play.”