Wheeler, McKenry recalled from Triple-A; Pacheco designated for assignment
DENVER -- Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez said Wednesday he is aware he isn't the same player who has gone to the last two All-Star Games, and he accepted being placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his left index finger.
Gonzalez, hitting .255 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs, has left four games -- including Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the D-backs -- with sudden and painful swelling in the finger. The exact source of the problem and how much rest will be needed are mysteries, but Gonzalez said that playing at reduced effectiveness is hurting the club.
Gonzalez's absence means more opportunities for the left-handed-hitting Corey Dickerson, who is batting .345 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 87 at-bats while competing for time in a crowded outfield.
"I think it was time," Gonzalez said. "We talked about it so many times and I tried not to go on the DL, but I guess it got to the point that I wasn't helping myself, I wasn't helping the club.
"I was taking [at-bats away from] a good guy that has been really hot like Dickerson. … I think he's the best option right now to play. For me, I've just got to heal and be the 'CarGo' that everybody knows."
Gonzalez has also dealt with left knee tendinitis since the second half of last season. So for now, he is not allowed to swing the bat, and to rest the knee, he isn't allowed to run. Gonzalez's exercise between now and when he is allowed to do more baseball activity is under the care of head athletic trainer Keith Dugger.
What isn't clear, however, is exactly what is wrong.
The injury originally was thought to be a broken blood vessel. During an examination on Thursday by Cleveland hand specialist Thomas Graham, the belief was there may be some sort of "foreign bodies" -- perhaps a fingernail or a splinter -- in the finger, with a soft tissue mass around it. However, no identifiable object showed up on an MRI exam or ultrasound.
Dugger said if there isn't an object identified or if the object is miniscule, surgery can do damage and unnecessarily add to a player's recovery time.
"For now, I have to just wait and see how it reacts," Gonzalez said. "I'm in that position. I don't know what we have to do. The best thing now is rest and see if it gets better in 15 days, and start swinging the bat and not worry about one finger."
Manager Walt Weiss said he presented the big picture to Gonzalez when he presented him with the decision.
"No one ever wants to go on the DL as a player, but deep down, he feels this is his best shot to get healthy," Weiss said. "I told him there are four months left to the season. A couple weeks right now, to give a couple weeks to be healthy the rest of the way, that would be a good trade-off.
"There are no guarantees he's going to be healthy after a couple of weeks, but it gives us his best shot."
A strained ligament in his right middle finger torpedoed Gonzalez's 2013 season. He hit 24 homers before the injury on July 7 and just two after.
"It's been less than a year, and I've bene dealing with two finger injuries," Gonzalez said. "It's frustrating. It sounds easy for people to say, 'Oh, a finger.' But it's not true."
Dickerson was not happy with how his opportunity came about, but he's looking forward to contributing more.
"It's a good opportunity for all the guys that need some at-bats, but CarGo is a big piece of the team," Dickerson said. "I don't look at it as trying to do anything more than helping the team by playing my game because that is what I bring and that's why I'm here."
Dickerson will be a big part of the lineup. But he is just 3-for-9 with two walks and three strikeouts this season against left-handed pitching. So against difficult southpaws, it's possible the Rockies will rely on right-handed hitters Drew Stubbs (.375 with one home run and four doubles in 48 at-bats vs. lefties) and Brandon Barnes (.294, one double in 44 at-bats vs. lefties).
Weiss still believes the Rockies' best chance to win is with Gonzalez, as long as he is healthy.
"His track record is pretty good," Weiss said. "He's going to hit. He's going to perform. It's just tough performing in this league trying to work around the nagging injuries."
To replace Gonzalez on the active roster, the Rockies recalled left-handed-hitting corner infielder Ryan Wheeler from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Wheeler went 2-for-4 with a home run during a previous callup.
The Rockies also designated backup catcher Jordan Pacheco for assignment and called up Michael McKenry from Colorado Springs.
Pacheco, 28, hit .236 with six doubles, a triple and eight RBIs in 22 games, 19 of which he started. Pacheco hit .309 as a rookie in 2012, when there was playing time at the corner-infield positions. But since then, he has struggled to find a fit on the roster that would allow him consistent playing time. The Rockies have 10 days to trade, release or outright Pacheco to the Minors.
By designating Pacheco for assignment, the Rockies have a spot on the Major League 40-man roster available for right-handed pitcher Eddie Butler, who is being called up from Double-A Tulsa to start Friday night against the Dodgers at Coors Field.
McKenry, 29, was called up earlier this season and went 4-for-19 with two doubles and one RBI in eight games, five of which he started. McKenry, who has played in 201 Major League games with the Rockies and Pirates, underwent surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee last July 30. Although he was back in action in Spring Training, McKenry has had to recover as the season has progressed.