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Slumping CarGo a no-go on Tuesday

Slumping CarGo a no-go on Tuesday

Slumping CarGo a no-go on Tuesday
CHICAGO -- Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez surveyed a stack of blank lineup cards in the Rockies clubhouse, wondering how many the team fills out on a given night. The lineup card usually isn't his concern, since his name tends to be a fixture on it. But not Tuesday night.

Gonzalez, last year's National League batting champion, went 0-for-4 on Monday night, and his hitless streak extended to 21 at-bats. His average has dropped so far he said it's " .2-whatever ... I don't want to know what it is."

For those interested, which includes Rockies fans, fantasy owners and his entire home country of Venezuela, Gonzalez is hitting .217, with one home run and 14 RBIs. Gonzalez was well aware that shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's team-leading RBI figure was 16, and only his own slump is keeping it from being higher.

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However, Gonzalez had two reasons to relax and smile.

No. 1, Gonzalez, hitting coach Carney Lansford and manager Jim Tracy spotted a flaw on video. On his leg kick, he was not rotating his upper body and not turning his front shoulder just right. The result is poor timing and a pull-hitter's swing. Gonzalez succeeds when hitting up the middle. A session in the batting cage at Wrigley Field on Tuesday afternoon had Lansford smiling.

No. 2, the Rockies entered Tuesday 15-7 and leading the NL West by four games over the Dodgers.

"It's going to come. I'm really glad it's still April, and I'm really glad the team is playing well," Gonzalez said. "It's not like a lot of pressure, because the team's not winning. We played really bad yesterday and we still got the 'W' [5-3 over the Cubs], but they played worse. So we're having a good time. We're lucky."

Tracy said it was simply a good time for a night off. The Cubs started left-hander Jeff Russell, but that was not the overriding factor in the decision.

"It's basically an opportunity to get him away and let him clear his head a little bit," Tracy said. "Because when he's right, it doesn't matter which hand the glove is on. We'll plug him back in there tomorrow against [Cubs right-hander Casey] Coleman."

Gonzalez's slump has lasted six games. The longest he went without a hit last year was four games. At that point, he dropped from .322 to .303, so the dry spell wasn't so glaring. Tulowitzki noted that an April slump is different. Tulowitzki entered Tuesday hitting .317, but has struggled in past Aprils.

"I'm the right guy to talk to with this whole thing that's going on," Tulowitzki said. "You go through stretches like this in the season, but when you don't have that batting average that moves two or three points when you're in a 1-for-15, 1-for-20, it makes it tough because everybody starts paying attention.

"For him, I honestly believe it's just a matter of time. Yesterday, we got into a little conversation about it and I said, 'You'll do fine. I go through this every year.' It just kind of happens sometimes and there are other guys that are good players that are struggling. Hanley Ramirez is another one; We just got done playing [the Marlins]. He wishes he had Carlos' numbers."

Gonzalez insisted his seven-year, $80 million contract, or an attempt to live up to it, is not the cause of the slow start.

"I'm really glad it's a long season," he said. "You have opportunities to get better. You have opportunities to fail and learn from your mistakes. That's baseball."

Gonzalez entered as a defensive replacement in left field in the eighth inning Tuesday's 4-3 victory. He grounded out to first base in the ninth, running his streak to 0-for-22.

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