SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Standout outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is helping drive the Rockies' optimism in the face of experts' predictions of a second-division finish. And Gonzalez isn't even slowing down to wonder what will happen if the Rockies struggle once again.
Gonzalez is healthy after ending last season early for left knee surgery. These bright Spring Training days see Troy Tulowitzki building strength after left hip labrum surgery, and Justin Morneau, Corey Dickerson, Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon coming off fine full offensive seasons, plus Arenado and DJ LeMahieu dusting off their trophy cases for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards. But if the Rockies can't win with all those guys, do they start jettisoning folks at the non-waiver Trade Deadline or before?
Perish the thought, Gonzalez says.
"We don't have to think that way, that there's pressure, because we're going to make things worse," said Gonzalez, a two-time All-Star who has battled problems with his right middle finger, left index finger and left knee since midseason 2013 but believes it's all behind him. "It's time to step up. It's time to change things. It's time to concentrate a little longer, be a competitive team all the way up to October.
"That's what we have to think about: It's time to play better baseball, instead of saying, 'This is it. We'd better win or we're going to go.' Less pressure, more work. Pressure never works. This stuff gets me excited."
Gonzalez, like Tulowitzki, is doing baseball activities on the back field while the Rockies make sure he's healthy. He said manager Walt Weiss, general manager Jeff Bridich, the coaching staff and the athletic training staff are the cool heads in this matter, since Gonzalez would be on the field by now if the decision were his.
"I'm ahead of schedule, and Tulo is ahead of schedule," Gonzalez said. "I don't know when we're going to play yet, but I know it's soon. There's no rush, but I haven't played baseball for a long time. I'm dying inside. I'm smiling when I'm playing baseball when I'm healthy."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.