Carlos Gonzalez was activated Tuesday, having been on the disabled list since Aug. 5 with a right middle finger sprain. But Gonzalez, who played one inning in left field in the Rockies' 7-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, could very well be shut down for the season before too much longer.
Gonzalez went 1-for-6 in rehab games on Saturday and Sunday with Triple-A Colorado Springs but wasn't able to play Monday in his final scheduled rehab game because his finger was bothering him.
"It's not going to heal in a month, it's going to take longer than that, but I'm activated today," Gonzalez said. "Just hopefully I start to feel a little better, and we're going to have to deal with that until the season's over."
Gonzalez saved a run with a strong throw while playing left field in the eighth inning Tuesday but did not lead off the bottom of the inning, because of his finger. ""Gonzalez, manager Walt Weiss and trainer Keith Dugger have said Gonzalez may be in and out of the lineup, playing when the ligament in the finger feels better and he can swing without too much discomfort.
"I think we'll pick our spots on days he's feeling good," Weiss said, "but I expect that thing to flare up from time to time. I'll deal with it accordingly, but he's available to maybe better our defense or pinch run when he's not able to swing the bat."
Gonzalez is hitting .302 with a team-leading 26 home runs and 70 RBIs in 104 games. To lessen the pressure on his finger, Gonzalez has adjusted his grip, placing the finger above the knob on his bat instead of right on it. Surgery is not an option, Dugger said, because any short-term relief is likely to be offset by increased tightness over time in the ligament.
Dugger said Todd Helton played a year and a half with a similar injury. And Weiss said there may come a point where the Rockies decide to just have Gonzalez stop playing the rest of the season and let the healing begin, once and for all. Before Tuesday's game, Weiss explained why a finger injury can have such a large effect in baseball.
"It's such a game of feel that even a small injury to a finger or a hand prevents you from playing this sport as opposed to many of the other sports," Weiss said. "If you got a finger that hurts, you can't throw or you can't swing the bat, you can't play the game."