By Ben Warwick

DENVER (CBS4) – When he toes the rubber tonight against the San Francisco Giants, Chi Chi Gonzalez will complete a comeback three years in the making.

Gonzalez, 27, last pitched in the Majors on July 7, 2016, for the Texas Rangers. In that start, he partially tore his UCL. For months, he tried non-invasive treatments but ultimately settled on surgery in July 2017.

He pitched a total of 10 innings in 2018 in the Texas Rangers low minors. The 23rd pick in the 2013 draft left the organization and, in December 2018, signed a minor league deal with Colorado. Gonzalez has started 33 games for Triple-A Albuquerque, tossing 76 1/3 innings with 69 strikeouts and 33 walks with an ERA of 5.66 and a 4-5 record.

Gonzalez will take the place of Jeff Hoffman, who has stumbled in each of his starts for Colorado in place of Kyle Freeland, who is working through his own issues in Albuquerque. Hoffman was once the prized jewel in the trade that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto in July 2015. In 44 games with the Rockies since then, Hoffman is a paltry 7-12 with a 6.05 ERA and questionable-at-best command.

Gonzalez is tentatively set to throw Tuesday’s game in San Francisco, and Sunday’s finale against the Dodgers at Coors Field.

“He’s been throwing the ball well, and a lot of the times you can’t look at overall statistics from what goes on in the Pacific Coast League,” manager Bud Black told media before Monday’s game in San Francisco.

The Pacific Coast League – including Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and El Paso – is considered to be very hitter-friendly.

The Rockies only had 39 people on their 40-man roster, so they didn’t have to make a move to make room for Gonzalez. They did, however, have to move Brendan Rodgers to the 10-day Injured List to make room for Gonzalez. Rodgers is dealing with inflammation in his right shoulder. Since making his Major League debut on May 17, Rodgers has batted .224 with eight runs, two doubles, seven RBI, four walks, and 27 strikeouts in 25 games.

Gonzalez faces a tall task Tuesday. The Rockies face Madison Bumgarner (3-7, 4.28 ERA, 93 K) in the bayside matchup.

Ben Warwick

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