Rockies recall Rutledge after losing Arenado to DL
Culberson, LeMahieu to help fill void as third baseman misses at least a month
ATLANTA -- When Nolan Arenado dove headfirst into second base with a leadoff double in the top of the second on Friday night at Turner Field, he had a feeling something was wrong.
"When I slid into the bag, I kind of knew I broke it. I knew right away," Arenado said. "It didn't feel good. As I was on the base, it started tightening up, so I just had a bad feeling about it."
Arenado's fears were confirmed as the Rockies placed him on the disabled list on Saturday afternoon with a mallet fracture in his left middle finger, recalling Josh Rutledge from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Arenado will meet with orthopedic surgeon Thomas Graham in Cleveland on Friday.
Whether Arenado wears a splint on his finger or opts for surgery, the third baseman will be out for at least a month. Although he will not know anything for certain until he meets with Graham, Arenado is eager to return as quickly as possible.
"I've heard the surgery can speed up the recovery, so obviously I'm all for whatever's going to help get me out there a lot quicker," Arenado said. "So if that's going to be the key, I'm all for it. But I just want to do what I've got to do to rehab and make sure I'm 100 percent so when I come back, I'm ready to go."
Meanwhile, Colorado manager Walt Weiss will mix and match Charlie Culberson, DJ LeMahieu and Rutledge between second and third. Weiss has no definite plans at this time, but he feels the situation will work itself out.
Culberson came in for Arenado on Friday and started at third base on Saturday, and Rutledge has not played third base since high school. That leaves LeMahieu's 206 2/3 Major League innings at third base as the most by an active Rockie.
"DJ's got some history at third base and he's playing a Gold Glove second base," Weiss said. "You don't want to necessarily move a guy that's playing dominant defense like he is, but for our club, that may be something we have to do."
"DJ has played third before and he can really play anywhere. If they do that, then that's fine," Culberson added. "I haven't played third much lately, but I feel good over there and I feel ready enough. If they put me in, I'm ready."
While Colorado figures out its situation at third base, Arenado has taken the news of his injury hard. "I kind of feel like I'm letting these guys down a little bit," he said Saturday as he lamented his impending prolonged absence from the lineup.
"There's a lot of season left, but still, I'm not a guy who likes to sit out," Arenado said. "I like to play every day. I haven't missed a game and that was something I took a lot of pride in and that part kind of hurts a little bit."
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki can empathize with Arenado. He missed nearly a month last season after suffering a broken rib while making a diving defensive play in a 5-4 loss to the Nationals on June 13 at Coors Field.
"One thing about him is he enjoys playing the game, such as myself," Tulowitzki said. "We take pride in being out there. When a guy like him gets hurt, not that other guys don't, but it's extra special for him to be out there on the field, so it hurts his feelings a little bit more than a normal person, so you feel for him."
Although Arenado will not take the field for some time, he already has a plan in place to improve. He said he will not lose sight of his current goals, an attitude Tulowitzki feels helped him stay determined during his rehab process.
"One thing that I've mentioned throughout my career is the time that I did get hurt, I felt like it made me a better player," Tulowitzki said. "I know it's hard to understand that, but I think it really gave me a chance to sit back and see what I needed to do different in my game, make adjustments and I really think it made me tougher and it made me a better player, so hopefully, that's going to be the same thing with Nolan."
However the infield alignment shakes out, Tulowitzki is confident the Rockies can weather Arenado's absence. Following Friday night's game, Weiss, too, felt assured that Colorado would have someone rise to the occasion.
"It gives another guy a chance to step up," Tulowitzki said. "You look at all the teams that usually win, they have to face some kind of adversity. So I think, if anything, this is going to make us tougher as a team, and when he comes back, it's going to be a big boost."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.