DENVER -- The Rockies' lineup went up Friday afternoon, and for the fifth time in the nine games since he returned from a right hamstring injury, Carlos Gonzalez's name wasn't included.David Dahl started in right field for the third time in nine games. Noel Cuevas has made two starts in
DENVER -- The Rockies' lineup went up Friday afternoon, and for the fifth time in the nine games since he returned from a right hamstring injury, Carlos Gonzalez's name wasn't included.
David Dahl started in right field for the third time in nine games. Noel Cuevas has made two starts in the position that used to be stamped with Gonzalez's presence. Gonzalez, instead, is more like in-and-out-of-the-lineup veteran Gerardo Parra. In Gonzalez's first eight games back from the disabled list, the Rockies are 6-2 and Dahl is hitting .333.
Three-time National League All-Star CarGo has become, at least for now, outfield-rotation-player CarGo.
"At this point I am," Gonzalez said. "Ever since I went on the DL, they made some moves. They called up another outfielder. Then they called up another one when Parra went on the suspension. Ever since then, Parra and I have been rotating, not getting the everyday job or whatever you want to call it. But we're just here to try to make the most out of it, try to help the team win. At the end, that's what it is."
It hasn't been easy since Gonzalez returned. The five games included rolled-over ground balls, gingerly runs up the first-base line and just one hit. Then Gonzalez doubled and singled in Thursday's 8-0 loss to the Angels.
And -- with a 226 batting average, three home runs and 12 RBIs on the season -- he went back to the bench on Thursday.
"I felt better yesterday, of course," Gonzalez said. "The more that you play, the better you feel, of course. If you want to get things going, you want to get a lot of opportunities and get hot. But I'm here, waiting for my opportunity. That's all."
But the absence of complaint does not mean acceptance.
"It's not about accepting anything," Gonzalez said. "I know what I'm capable of doing. Whenever they give me a chance, I'm trying to make the most out of it. They're the ones who make the roster or the lineups. I'm just here to do my job and be good, make sure my teammates are doing the right thing, and make this club better. Whether it's on the field or on the bench, I'm always here to support my guys. I don't care about anything else."
Gonzalez re-signed with the club this spring on a one-year deal. While manager Bud Black hopes the old CarGo returns, he loves that the man inside is unchanged.
"One thing I know about CarGo, and I've learned to truly appreciate him, he truly is a team guy," Black said. "And for us to get where we want to be, all our players have to be team-first. I know this: For us to be a complete team, we need Carlos Gonzalez to be Carlos Gonzalez. And I do think that's going to happen. Like our offense, he has not hit our stride yet."
Black said determinations for who will play the corners alongside everyday center fielder Charlie Blackmon are based on "playing time, a rest component, a matchup component, a 'who's hot' component."
Can the days of CarGo becoming a Rockies fixture return under those conditions?
"I'm not sure," Black said. "That's hard to predict. But I do know that he's going to help us win."
Gonzalez would rather earn his old status than use the back of his baseball card.
"I've been doing a lot of special things on the field for years, but it's not something to rub on anyone else," he said. "It's just something that is nice for you. It makes you feel better. But at the end of the day, you just wait for your opportunity, continue to work hard and do the things you normally do."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.