DENVER -- Having watched way more baseball than he wanted to during a five-game suspension, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado swatted the first pitch he saw from Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks for a two-run homer in Friday night's 16-5 loss to the Cubs.Arenado had been suspended for charging the mound
DENVER -- Having watched way more baseball than he wanted to during a five-game suspension, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado swatted the first pitch he saw from Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks for a two-run homer in Friday night's 16-5 loss to the Cubs.
Arenado had been suspended for charging the mound when the Padres' Luis Perdomo threw a pitch behind him on April 11. Before Friday's game, Arenado said watching the team was tough, although the Rockies managed to go 3-2 without him.
"I was probably a little more nervous, just because I was hoping they would win," Arenado said. "Being in the fight, you don't really think of anything. You just go out there and compete. But watching, you hope they win. I felt guilty, not being out there. I feel like if they lost, it was like it was personally my fault because I wasn't doing anything to help."
Arenado certainly helped Friday.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead on Javier Baez's sixth homer of the year on Rockies starter Jon Gray's third pitch. But in the bottom of the first, Charlie Blackmon delivered an RBI single. Arenado came up to warm applause, then poked Hendricks' 84.5-mph slider over the out-of-town scoreboard in right for his 150th career home run.
During the suspension, Arenado found himself feeling old while taking at-bats Monday through Wednesday in extended spring training at the club's complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. Some of the players, who are awaiting assignment to Minor League clubs and may not join a team until the Rookie and Short Season teams begin play in June, are a decade younger than Arenado.
"There were a couple of guys there that were like 16 or 17," said Arenado. "That was a little weird. I felt really old, especially with my birthday, getting older.
"It was cool talking to them, cool being around young kids. It kind of gives you a little bit more energy, to be honest with you. They're younger, a little bit more bouncy and wanted to do more stuff. It was fun."
In Arenado's absence, the team hit .170 with a .241 on-base percentage. However, seven of the 27 hits were home runs, which turned out to be enough when the pitching performed well. In defense of the hitters, the Rockies played in sub-freezing wind chill two of the nights in Pittsburgh.
"Maybe swings and misses a little too much, but it's cold," Arenado said. "It's not easy to play in that weather, in those conditions. I don't know if I would have done anything, either, in those conditions, but they battled, they did the best they could and found a way to win. It was good starting pitching, our bullpen did a good job and our defense is really good. That's how you win ballgames."
But even before the suspension Arenado was subpar (.288, one home run, six RBIs) right along with his teammates. His 17 at-bats over the three days in extended spring training were designed to find the power in his swing.
"I had a couple of things I wanted to work on, probably won't share them -- just kind of personal things," he said. "But I feel good. I feel fresh. I don't like missing games but I had to do it. I'm trying to look at the positives."
Being a Major Leaguer among younger players who aren't making much meant Arenado was the one paying for the party, even though he was the guy with the birthday. It is customary during injury rehab assignments for a Major Leaguer to pay for a nice meal for the team. Arenado found himself figuring out how to treat at least three teams' worth of players.
"Extended is tough, but I got a taco truck the last day, so everyone got to eat some tacos and just hang out," he said.
• Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez suffered a slight right hamstring strain in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. That and the expectation of cold weather with the possibility of rain and snow Friday dictated that he would not be in the lineup. Gonzalez said he would be available off the bench.
• Gerardo Parra started in right field in Gonzalez's stead. Parra is facing a four-game suspension, but he said Friday there was no word on his appeal.
• Fresh off a solid injury rehab start, righty Jeff Hoffman was recalled, then optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. On Thursday, Hoffman threw 73 pitches and gave up one run on two hits with six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Hoffman retired the last 11 batters he faced.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.