DENVER (AP) – The recent fury of Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort wasn’t directed at his front office or even his players, just his paying customers.
He lashed out at fans who were bashing the bad baseball at Coors Field, suggesting to one in an email exchange that maybe Denver doesn’t deserve a major league team anymore.
Monfort issued an apology and said that relocating the Rockies “has never been, and will never be an option.”
Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez understands his owner’s exasperation. He feels it, too, in a season that’s turned sour.
At 40-55, the injury-riddled Rockies are on course for their fourth straight losing season. They trail the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers by 13 games at the All-Star break.
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“(Monfort) wants to win just like we want to win,” said Gonzalez, who returned Friday after missing more than a month with an injured left index finger. “He’s a guy that will get in front of us and let us know the way he feels and express himself.
“Fans, they’re going to get frustrated, of course. When we don’t get results, we get frustrated, too.”
After raising eyebrows this spring by predicting a 90-win season, Monfort drew even more attention last week by admonishing some supporters who expressed concerns with the product on the field. Monfort went so far as to suggest they not come out to Coors Field.
He later backtracked, saying “I want to express my sincere apology to Rockies fans that received a recent email response that was not consistent with our organization’s values. … The fact that so many of you take the time to write to us demonstrates your tremendous passion for the Rockies.”
The Rockies got off to a fast start, even spending a day — May 7 — tied for first. But they’ve been besieged by injuries and inconsistent play, swooning to a franchise-worst June mark of 8-20 to drop well back of the pack.
“It’s certainly disappointing where we’re at,” said manager Walt Weiss, whose squad leads the major leagues in hitting (.281), but is last in ERA (5.07). “We’ve had to fight through some tough stuff.”
The Rockies have relied on 13 different starting pitchers this season, including prized prospect Eddie Butler, who made a start before going on the disabled list with an inflamed rotator cuff. The starters have earned just five wins over the last 29 games, with ace Jorge De La Rosa accounting for four of them.
Butler’s return could help in the second half. Same with Jordan Lyles, who was on schedule to come back from a broken left hand soon after the break, but recent X-rays showed he needed a little more time to heal.
Colorado also has been without some big bats in their lineup, but received a boost with the return of Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado, who missed a month with a broken left middle finger.
Reigning NL batting champion Michael Cuddyer remains out with a fractured left shoulder. Cuddyer is scheduled to undergo another MRI this week and if all goes well, he said he could soon be out of his sling and back working on his swing. Cuddyer is hoping for a mid-August return.
“It’s crazy,” Cuddyer said of the team’s injury epidemic. “Sometimes, you get snake-bit and unfortunately we have been. Just trying to weather that storm.”
With the Rockies scuffling, there will no doubt be some whispers about potential deals as the trade deadline draws near. All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s name could surface, but he’s the cornerstone of this franchise. Tulowitzki has been healthy this season and leads the league with a .345 average.
“I’ve always treated the trade deadline like reading the National Enquirer,” Cuddyer said. “Half of the stuff isn’t even true. But it’s fun as a fan to watch it and follow it. Until it actually happens, there’s no reason to believe any of it.”
Gonzalez definitely expects his name to be mentioned, especially now that he’s no longer hampered by a finicky finger. He underwent surgery on June 10 to remove a small tumor in the finger.
“Just trying to get better as a player, get healthy and help this club win,” Gonzalez said. “We have to concentrate on the little things and don’t think about what our record is and who’s in first. Just compete every day and try to win series.”
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