DENVER -- Run down emotionally and a little tired physically, Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez took a break from the starting lineup Tuesday night. Gonzalez entered play on Aug. 6 hitting .327, but after an 0-for-5 performance in Monday night's 10-0 victory over the Dodgers, he was down to .308. His difficulties have entailed more than just a hitting slump, which is no small part due to the fact teams aren't challenging him because veteran regulars Troy Tulolwitzki, Todd Helton and Michael Cuddyer are missing because of injuries. He was away from the team for four days to be with his family in Venezuela after the death of his grandfather. Gonzalez had played, mostly with distinction, in 114 of the Rockies' 127 games going into Tuesday. He has still managed eight RBIs during the 16-game slump. His 21 homers are second on the team behind rookie catcher Wilin Rosario's 22, and his 81 RBIs lead the club. One day off wasn't too much to ask, and it just might put him back on track after he's gone 15-for-72 (.208) during August.
"It's nice -- a lot of people don't realize, but when I went to Venezuela, those days were hard," Gonzalez said. "They were not days off for me. There was a lot of traveling. There were a lot of things in my head. I spent time with my family in a tough situation. "Finally, I can say this is a day off for me. I can sit back and relax, think about the game. I don't feel the same as I did, but we all have to go through tough moments. That's what's happening with me, but I will get through this, I will get better and I will get back to where I was." Pitchers have applied extreme caution while facing Gonzalez since Tulowitzki left the lineup in late May because of an injury that led to left groin surgery. But it was only recently that impatience has crept into Gonzalez's swing. "I don't think Carlos Gonzalez has pressed," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "I think he's outgrown that term. But he is trying to do a little much right now, expanding the strike zone in the process -- that has a little bit to do with it. I also think coming back and wanting right back in the lineup after having attended the funeral, I'm sure that from a grieving standpoint has a little something to do with it. "But not one time has he let any of these offensive factors play into taking the pride he takes in being a defensive player also. He's made terrific catches, terrific throws. That is maturity." Gonzalez said he has taken solace in the fact the club has been winning. "I haven't swung the bat real well this month, but I'm staying positive and believing I can still contribute," Gonzalez said. "I'm happy with the way the team has been playing lately, and I hope we continue to play this way. Even though I'm not at my best and 'Tulo' is out of the lineup, those guys are doing their job. "I'm just trying to take my opportunities to score guys with a ground ball or a sacrifice fly. The other day [against the Cubs], I hit that ground ball that turned out to be a fielder's choice that drove in the winning run. It doesn't matter if I don't get results. At the end of the day, I want to win."