DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez conquered his "biggest fear" Saturday by fouling off a few balls against the first live arm he's faced since undergoing finger surgery on June 10. After Gonzalez walked away pain-free from the 35-pitch session against Eddie Butler, manager Walt Weiss was encouraged enough to say "there's a real good shot we'll see him before the break."
"That was a good test for CarGo," Weiss said. "When he gets jammed or hits a ball off the end of the bat, it's very different from what it was before. He doesn't have any pain."
Before having a benign tumor removed from his left index finger, the lefty-swinging Gonzalez frequently experienced pain and swelling when not squaring up a pitch. Often, it would be so severe that his batting glove would not fit.
That wasn't anywhere near the case Saturday when Butler jammed Gonzalez on a pitch he fouled down the third-base line.
"I was really scared at the beginning because I didn't want to hit one ball off the end and get jammed and have that feeling that I was having before surgery," said Gonzalez, who was able to grip the bat better than he expected. "That's when [my finger] used to hurt really bad, but it felt really good. There was no pain."
Gonzalez will participate in another batting practice session Sunday. If he emerges without a setback, the Rockies plan on sending him out on a rehab assignment at that point.
Weiss didn't clarify how many games Gonzalez will require but did say he wasn't worried about ramping him up for a few games only to sit during the All-Star break.
"I'm not too concerned with that," Weiss said. "I think it will be fine if he can get a few games in before the break and then have a few days off."
Gonzalez was batting .255 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs before landing on the disabled list June 4. He doesn't anticipate it requiring too many at-bats before he's back in the swing of things.
"I've just got to get my timing back, and I'm sure that will take only a few at-bats," Gonzalez said. "So hopefully I'll go down to the Minor Leagues and get a couple at-bats then come back here."
Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less