Painful finale for Rockies as Freeland hurts right shoulder

July 9th, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- A first half that needed to be so much better for the Colorado Rockies could not have ended much worse.

In the seventh inning of Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants, which left manager Bud Black’s team 34-57 at the All-Star break, the Rockies lost left-handed starter to what he described as a dislocated right shoulder that popped out of its joint as he dived for a Brett Wisely bunt.

The shoulder popped into place again on its own almost instantly, but that did not spare Freeland the immense pain that had him writhing on the ground and screaming

“That was one of the worst, worst, worst feelings I’ve had, pitching-injury-wise,” Freeland said after undergoing X-rays in the ballpark. “It’s the first time I’ve ever dislocated a joint in my life, so it was the first time I got to experience that.”

The X-rays showed no broken bones. When he returns to Denver, he will undergo an MRI to look for structural damage that cannot be seen on an X-ray.

Regardless of the results, that type of injury clearly means Freeland will lose time at the start of the second half, leaving four-fifths of the projected Opening Day rotation on the injured list. Austin Gomber, who will pitch the second-half opener against the Yankees on Friday, is the last of the quintet standing.

Opening Day starter Germán Márquez underwent Tommy John surgery in May. Antonio Senzatela went on the injured list the same month with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, and the Rockies lost Ryan Feltner to a skull fracture when he was hit by a Nick Castellanos line drive on May 13.

Notwithstanding what Freeland’s injury means for the team’s chances of a better showing in the second half, his loss hits hard because of who he is -- the Rockies player with the third-longest tenure on the team, a mainstay since his 2017 arrival, and a pitcher and person deemed worthy of the five-year, $64.5 million contract the club gave him at the start of the 2022 season.

“When you see a guy like that, who is so competitive, with so much fire, go down and be in that much pain, it’s gut-wrenching as a teammate,” third baseman Ryan McMahon said.

Said manager Bud Black, “You don’t like to see anything like that on the field.”

Freeland, who has not won since May 14, was pitching one of his best games of the season, nearly matching Logan Webb on a day in which the Giants starter threw his first career complete game.

Freeland and the Rockies were down 1-0 on a fourth-inning homer by J.D. Davis, who hit a fastball that caught too much plate.

With one out in the seventh, Freeland walked Casey Schmitt. Wisely then pulled a bunt up the right side that required Freeman to dive head-first to glove.

Freeland described the quick turn of events: “It was when I dove for the ball and landed is when it separated. Then, when I tried to push off the ground to make the play I had no strength in my right arm and couldn’t get up. As I rolled over on my back, I felt [the shoulder] slide right in.”

Teammates immediately motioned for the medical staff, who rushed onto the field. A few moments later, they helped Freeland up by grabbing his left arm. He walked off the field with trainers supporting the injured arm.

Justin Lawrence relieved Freeland and got the final two outs of the scoreless inning.

The game was over in a flash after that, totaling 1 hour, 56 minutes.

Webb struck out four of his final five hitters, including Kris Bryant, McMahon and Elias Díaz in the ninth. First-base umpire Quinn Wolcott rang up Bryant for the third strike in a very generous call for Webb, who struck out 10 with no walks.

Each team had seven hits. Webb and Freeland both induced two double plays.

Shortly after the final out, Black headed to the airport for a flight home to San Diego, where he will be in contact with the front office trying to complete a rotation puzzle for the second half with so many pieces missing.