PITTSBURGH — Bud Black is keeping the faith.
The Rockies’ manager is well aware of the details of Carlos Gonzalez‘s prolonged slump: .223 batting average, five home runs and just 19 RBIs in 215 at-bats entering Monday night’s game here.
Black also knows that Gonzalez is batting .157 (8-for-51) with runners in scoring position. So, while Gonzalez hit fifth instead of cleanup against Pittsburgh on Monday, Black continues to express confidence that Gonzalez will snap out of his funk.
“We have to be patient, we have to just hang in there, knowing that this is a skilled player and very talented,” Black said. “This is a guy that we know, in the end, the production will be there.”
Nonetheless, Gonzalez’s frustration overflowed Sunday in Colorado’s 7-5 loss to the Cubs when he was ejected for arguing after striking out in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. It was only the second time in Gonzalez’s 10-year career that he was tossed. He admitted afterward that frustration fueled his blowup.
“I want to help the team score runs, and that’s what really frustrated me,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve said for a long time, I’m not a guy that’s going to get upset for getting out. I get upset when I feel I have the opportunity to help the team and I don’t.”
Black thought Gonzalez was showing signs of breaking out during Colorado’s 10-game road trip through Minnesota, Cincinnati and Philadelphia last month. Gonzalez hit .400 on the trip, increased his average from .214 to .256, hit two home runs and drove in five runs.
However, he’s regressed since then.
“That 10-game road trip was more CarGo-like,” Black said. “I think all of us, including CarGo, thought that might be the trigger for him. We’ve seen some signs since that, but it hasn’t quite come together like it did on that trip.”
Gonzalez began slowly in 2015 as well. At this point of the season two years ago, he was hitting .242 with seven homers and 20 RBIs.
Gray, the opening-day starter, is working his way back from a stress fracture in his left foot. He’ll make an injury rehab start Wednesday for High-A Lancaster (Calif.) and his scheduled to pitch four innings and/or 60 pitches.
The Rockies will then decide if Gray needs one or two more rehab starts before he rejoins the Rockies. The Rockies want to get Gray’s pitch count up to about 90 pitches.
Murphy, out since the end of spring training with a fractured right forearm, is playing well for Triple-A Albuquerque. Murphy was hitting .375 with a .667 slugging percentage in 26 plate appearances through Sunday since joining the Isotopes at the beginning of June.
“He’s getting at-bats and getting reps. His arm feels good,” Black said. “He’s getting close, probably a week to 10 days.”
The Rockies have to make a decision regarding Murphy soon. He must be activated from the 10-day disabled list by June 23. At that point, Colorado must decide whether to add Murphy to the 25-man roster or option him to Triple-A.
Part of the decision revolves around what the club will do with veteran Ryan Hanigan, who’s handled the pitching staff well. Colorado can’t simply option Hanigan to the minors without exposing him to waivers.
However, it must be remembered that Murphy competed with Tony Wolters to be the tandem starting catcher during spring training, until Murphy was injured.
“Murph was going to play a lot,” Black said. “He showed some power with his bat and we liked how he caught games last year.”