DENVER -- Most Valuable Player candidate Nolan Arenado was out of the Rockies' lineup against the Dodgers on Saturday after dealing with a 10-game slump at the plate that has renewed concerns about a right shoulder injury that took him out of an Aug. 10 game and has left him with lingering pain.
With the Rockies protecting a half-game lead over the Dodgers in the National League West entering Saturday, manager Bud Black's decision to sit one of the best players in the game did not go over well with the highly competitive All-Star third baseman.
"I don't make those calls," Arenado said of the decision to rest him for a day. "I don't want it. But I'm not playing well. That's why I'm not playing today.
"It's obviously extremely disappointing. I don't make the lineup. I want to be out there. I voiced that. But at the same time, I'm not performing. It is what it is."
What it is is a .128 funk at the plate (5-for-39) for Arenado over the last 10 games and a .241 (21-for-87) stretch in 25 games dating back to Aug. 10. Before that game, Arenado was hitting .308; his average has slipped to .297 since then.
Arenado has maintained that the pain in his shoulder does not affect him at the plate.
"It doesn't hurt hitting," Arenado said of the shoulder pain. "Throwing, it does. It's not 100 percent throwing. It's not going to be good throwing probably until the year is over, until next season. But I have to deal with it. I can play through it, and I'm going to continue to play through it."
The effect in the field isn't easy to discern. After winning Gold Gloves in each of his first five big league seasons, the sixth-year Rockie has set the standard at third base. When a ball gets past him, it is a surprise, and when a throwing error led to a pair of unearned runs that made the difference in Friday's 4-2 loss to the Dodgers, it took replay officials an inordinately long period of time to determine whether Arenado's throw had caught the runner or not. The need for officials to spend several minutes studying video replays to determine if he made a play reflects the fine shade of difference the injury may be making in the field.
"Overall, he's been really consistent," Black said, noting he does not see Arenado's struggles at the plate mirrored on the field. "He's played Gold Glove caliber defense all year."
But in a critical game with playoff implications, Arenado found himself on the bench for just the fourth time this season, not including his five-game suspension for his role in a dustup with the Padres in April.
If past is precedent, then Rockies fans have reason to be hopeful. When Arenado sat out his five-game suspension, he came back and went 9-for-16 with three homers and six RBIs in his first four games back, and after missing two starts following the shoulder injury, Arenado started an eight-game hitting streak, going 11-for-32 (.344) with a homer and five RBIs. In 20 games following a day off -- whether individual or a scheduled team off-day -- Arenado is hitting .329 (25-for-76) with nine homers and 15 RBIs.
"Obviously, I'm already working in the cage and I'm going to hit some BP today," Arenado said of the work he'll do to right his performance at the plate while sitting out of Saturday's starting lineup. "I'm going to get my same work in in case I have to come in later. Just try to prepare for the day, and then hopefully, if my name's called, I got to be ready to go."