DENVER -- Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez enthusiastically adopted the "C-Flap" -- the plastic guard that, when attached to the batting helmet, offers jaw and chin protection. But lately he has been going bare-faced.It's a story of self-preservation, frustration, comfort and, ultimately, superstition -- with Gonzalez trying to get safety
DENVER -- Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez enthusiastically adopted the "C-Flap" -- the plastic guard that, when attached to the batting helmet, offers jaw and chin protection. But lately he has been going bare-faced.
It's a story of self-preservation, frustration, comfort and, ultimately, superstition -- with Gonzalez trying to get safety to the top of the list.
Up-and-in pitches have become a key part of the strategy against Gonzalez, who at times has a long swing. Last year, Gonzalez was nearly hit by a few pitches.
Then he noticed that Cubs third baseman Kristopher Bryant used the flap after being hit on the bill of the helmet by a pitch from Rockies right-hander German Marquez on April 22. At the end of the month as he was coming off the disabled list, Gonzalez sought out Bryant to ask about the added piece of plastic with foam cushion.
"He said, 'I don't know why I waited until I got hit in the face to wear the mask," Gonzalez said. "So I was like, 'I haven't gotten hit in the face, so I'm going to start using it.'"
Gonzalez wasn't alone on his team. Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta began wearing it last year with the D-backs after sustaining a broken nose and fractured teeth when hit by a 93-mph fastball from the Pirates' Johnny Barbato. First baseman Ian Desmond wore one for much of the season, but hasn't recently.
"No story there," Desmond said when asked why he stopped using it.
But Gonzalez's "C-Flap" hasn't been seen much since May 30.
"I threw it on the ground and I broke it," Gonzalez said. "It was against the Giants when Gorkys Hernandez dove [for a catch with two men on base to end the fifth], when the game was close. I threw it down the first-base line and broke the thing."
At the time, Gonzalez was three games into a hot streak that continues. He entered Tuesday night's game against the Mets hitting .358 with a .411 on-base percentage and a .552 slugging percentage in his past 17 games. When he broke the guard, he went to the batter's box bare-faced -- and still kept hitting.
And, you know how that is.
"I've got it back," Gonzalez said. "But it doesn't feel comfortable again, so I've gotta get used to it.
"I wore it the first game in Philly. I went 0-for-4, so I threw it on the ground. I'll do anything for hits, whatever it takes.
"But I do have one."
Senzatela's Albuquerque return set
Righty Antonio Senzatela, who began the season in the Rockies' bullpen but was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque to build his pitch count in case he is needed for the rotation, will pitch again for the Isotopes on Saturday against Fresno, Rockies manager Bud Black said. Senzatela hasn't appeared in a game since sustaining a right groin strain on June 6. It was the second time he had sustained the injury.
One more for Estevez
Right-handed reliever Carlos Estevez checked out healthy after throwing a live batting practice session on Monday. Black said he will throw one more such session before being evaluated for a Minor League injury rehab assignment for the right elbow strain that landed him on the 60-day disabled list.
"He exhibited a lot of effort, he turned the ball loose, he threw all his pitches, and afterwards he felt fine and today he feels good," Black said. "So that's a good sign for Carlos."
Rockies sign three Draft picks
The Rockies agreed to terms with three Draft picks on Tuesday.
Left-handed-hitting first baseman Grant Lavigne of Bedford (N.H.) High School, the 42nd-overall pick in Competitive Balance Round A, signed for $2 million. Shortstop Terrin Vavra of the University of Minnesota, a third-round pick, signed for $550,000, according to Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline. The club does not release or confirm bonus figures.
The Rockies also announced the signing of seventh-round pick Andrew Quezada, a right-handed pitcher from Cal State Fullerton.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.