DENVER -- To think that Rockies rookie Nolan Arenado thought his glove would delay his route to the Major Leagues.
"I thought they were going to be hesitant to bring me up because of my defense," Arenado said. "I thought they'd say, 'This guy is a good third baseman but he makes some errors.'"
With a month to go in the season, there is a good shot that Arenado's glove could turn gold. Even though he wasn't called up until April 28, Arenado has drawn raves and posted numbers that could make him the first rookie to win a National League Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
The defensive plays have been sparkling. Any search of video will back that statement. If you prefer numbers over the eye test, he still looks good. His "range factor," a formula under which putouts and assists are divided by the number of games participated in, was an NL-leading 3.19 going into Monday afternoon's game against the Dodgers, with the Mets' David Wright second at 2.90.
Arenado's. 978 fielding average in 111 games was fourth, behind the Marlins' Placido Polanco (.988), the Dodgers' Juan Uribe (.987) and the D-backs' Martin Prado (.978). However, Arenado had more chances (362) than every third baseman but the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez (384 in 124 games). Of the players ahead of him in fielding percentage, Prado had the most chances at 243.
In the category of defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR), Arenado is at 3.6, which is first in the NL according to the stats calculated by ESPN, and second to the Braves' Andrelton Simmons according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Gold Glove Award voting is up to managers and coaches in each league. Managers aren't allowed to vote for their own players, but stating an opinion is well within bounds.
"You hate to overstate things, but it's hard for me to remember a third baseman having a better year than Arenado's had defensively," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I don't think you can play any better than he has defensively. He's been stellar.
"He plays with a lot of confidence for a young player and obviously the skill set is very impressive. He's got tremendous hands, great feet when he gets around the ball, a really strong arm and he plays with no fear at a very difficult position."
When the Rockies selected Arenado in the second round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of El Toro High in Lake Forest, Calif., it was for his bat. Scouts from several teams thought he might have to move to catcher. But he developed quickness around the bag, and it's showing. Reds manager Dusty Baker, whose contending team dropped two of three last weekend at Coors Field, saw enough of Arenado.
"This guy made three or four good plays -- he made a play a day," Baker said. "I passed him in the hallway out here. He's pretty stout and big for a third baseman. For a guy that doesn't have much speed, he has a lot of quickness."
Arenado hit 49 home runs and hit .299 in 432 Minor League games. In the Majors, he entered Monday hitting .269 with 10 home runs and 46 RBIs. The production hasn't been consistent, but he has had 13 go-ahead and eight game-winning RBIs. Those stats are important in Gold Glove consideration because history has shown that managers and coaches gravitate toward offensive players even though it's a defensive award.
Arenado said he is just beginning to let himself think of the top defensive honor at his position.
"When I was in the Minors, I never thought about the Gold Glove," Arenado said. "I thought I could be a good defensive third baseman. I never thought I was going to be up there with some of the guys people are putting me up there with. I never put myself up there, but to hear that people are doing it is special."
CarGo's finger swells up, but surgery not a possibility
DENVER -- Rockies All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez awoke Monday with his right middle finger swollen, and his spirit frustrated.
After playing Saturday and Sunday for Triple-A Colorado Springs in the first two games of his injury rehab assignment, he showed up with a swollen finger Monday and didn't play. His publicist said to the media in his native Venezuela that he feared Gonzalez would need surgery. It created somewhat of a buzz, considering that Gonzalez was to return to the Rockies on Tuesday.
However, Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said there is no surgery possibility, and he added that Gonzalez's frustration simply got the better of him.
According to Dugger, the sprained ulnar collateral ligament in the right middle finger that Gonzalez suffered in early July will have good days and bad. Monday was a bad one. When or whether Gonzalez -- hitting .302 with a team-leading 26 home runs and 70 RBIs in 103 games -- returns before the season ends is based on how he feels, but surgery is not and never has been a possibility.
A sprain, Dugger reminded, is a slight tear, and tears create pain if a player is trying to play, rather than having complete rest for six to eight weeks.
"It's still going to be sore, it's always going to be sore until he rests," Dugger said. "We're not getting another MRI. We're going to watch him daily. If he can play one day, he'll play. The next two days, he might have to take off. It's not going to get better until he rests."
Gonzalez's publicist told a reporter in his native Venezuela: "Carlos has spoken with his mother, and what we can gather is that his hand is so swollen he can't even close it now. He's feeling pain in his hand again. The [ligament] in his middle right finger is very close to being completely torn, and he has to avoid that so he wouldn't undergo a surgery. We are going to wait for an official announcement from the Rockies, but the situation is not looking good at the moment."
Gonzalez tried to play through the injury from July 7, when he suffered it, until he went on the disabled list after playing Aug. 4. He rested and felt better before beginning his rehab assignment Saturday. However, Dugger said that was enough rest to get him back on the field, but not enough to totally heal the ligament.
"When you tear something, it scars," Dugger said. "It's like spraining your ankle over and over. It becomes stable but it still doesn't have the elasticity. He'll always have a deformed finger."
Dugger said the problem with doing surgery in the area is the ligament becomes stiff, and the recurring pain will be even greater. He added that the injury will be an issue until Gonzalez adjusts his grip on the bat.
"That's not an easy thing to do," Dugger said. "It's not easy at all when you've held a bat that long. He's trying everything he can."
In another development, rookie outfielder Corey Dickerson, one of Gonzalez's replacements, is trying to battle through a hamstring tendon strain in his left knee. The injury originally occurred Sunday. Dickerson had a pinch-hit double in the eighth inning Monday, but could not stay in the game to run the bases.
"Tendinitis -- it's just been there and it will burn after I run," Dickerson said. "The burning sensation has gotten a little worse, so we're trying to flare it down and get it iced. But it will be all right."
Rutledge remains confident in return to Majors
DENVER -- Infielder Josh Rutledge began his third tour with the Rockies insisting that his confidence never wavered during the rough first two stints in the Majors this season.
Rutledge began the year as the starting second baseman, but entering his start at shortstop against the Dodgers on Monday afternoon, he had a .211 Major League average.
He had success at Triple-A Colorado Springs -- a .371 batting average with four home runs, 17 doubles and 24 RBIs in 38 games, as well as a 15-for-30 run. Sky Sox manager Glenallen Hill and hitting coach Dave Hajek helped Rutledge lower his hand position, which the Rockies hope will help him regain his stroke from last season -- .274 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 73 games after being called up from Double-A Tulsa.
"I don't think I've lost confidence all year," Rutledge said. "It's just one of those learning years. I ended up starting with my hands a lot lower, and I feel like it loosened me up. My swing wasn't so big. It was really good."
There were also trials in the Minors -- a bout with plantar fasciitis that cost him playing time, and some rough days defensively. However, most observers say not to place much stock in his eight errors because of the tricky infield at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs.
"It helped me with my aggressiveness," Rutledge said. "You can't sit back on anything or it'll eat you up."
Rutledge's struggles allowed DJ LeMahieu to grab control of second base, but Rutledge has a chance to establish a place for himself in the Rockies' future.
"I'm going to give him a chance to perform right away," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's performed really well down in Colorado Springs and he's a very interesting player, as we've seen. So I want to get him involved."
Chatwood doesn't plan to stay sidelined by sore hand
DENVER -- Sunday was supposed to be a day glowing with excitement for Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood. Instead, he left the mound seething in frustration after taking a line drive off his pitching hand.
Chatwood, who spent a month on the disabled list with a right elbow impingement, left before getting an out in the third inning of Sunday's 7-4 victory after Reds pitcher Mike Leake smoked a line drive over the mound. Chatwood reflexively shot up his right hand, and the ball struck his fingers and bounced into the outfield.
He soon lost most of the feeling in his thumb and was pulled after giving up a homer and two walks to the next three batters. Chatwood said he planned to make his next start Saturday in San Diego, but manager Walt Weiss was less optimistic.
"I haven't seen him yet, but I'm sure it's really sore," Weiss said. "So hopefully he can make is next start, but I think that's obviously the best-case scenario.
"They got him good. I saw the replay, it hit him really good."
The Rockies have an off-day Thursday, and Weiss said the extra day of rest may provide enough time for Chatwood to recover. Weiss said he would feel comfortable starting Chatwood even if he had to skip his usual bullpen session between starts.
"It gives him a shot," Weiss said. "I think that thing's going to be sore for a few days."
Before landing on the DL on July 31, Chatwood asserted himself as one of the Rockies' best starters. He's 7-4 with a 3.29 ERA after Sunday's no-decision, but his ERA hovered comfortably below 3.00 from May through late July.
• Troy Tulowitzki got a day off in the series opener Monday against Los Angeles to rest his sore legs, manager Walt Weiss said.
• Center fielder Dexter Fowler missed his sixth straight start Monday after bruising his knee in an Aug. 26 win over the Giants. Weiss said Fowler has progressed enough that he could be back before the series with the Dodgers ends Wednesday.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.