CarGo treasures first at-bat of game

Slugger: First-inning opportunity 'bigger than one in 9th inning with bases loaded'

CarGo treasures first at-bat of game

DENVER -- Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez's first turn to hit is his favorite. For example, his three-run homer during Saturday's 5-3 victory over the Padres came his first time up.

"Getting ahead in the first at-bat always helps," Gonzalez said. "I always tell myself that the first at-bat is bigger than one in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and the game on the line. I'm always ready to hit early.

"Whenever you get going in the first at-bat, you're going to have a good chance to get a multi-hit game. Other than that, I'm always trying to have good at-bats every time you step up to the plate."

The first plate appearance, however, also is the hardest. He is hitting .240/.309/.480 the first time up, although those numbers include a horrendous May slump. But overall, Gonzales is third in the National League with a team-high 24 multi-hit games. On the Rockies, Nolan Arenado has 21 multi-hit games, while DJ LeMahieu has 19 and Gerardo Parra and Trevor Story have 18.

Worth noting

• Right-hander Christian Bergman, who hasn't pitched since May 19 because of a left oblique strain, threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Saturday. He is scheduled for another bullpen on Tuesday, then will throw a live batting practice session before beginning a Minor League rehab assignment.

• Catcher Tony Wolters could be reinstated from the seven-day concussion list for Tuesday night's game against the Yankees. Wolters went 2-for-8 in a two-game injury rehab assignment at Triple-A Albuquerque.

• Sunday's fan photo day brought back many players from the Rockies' history, such as longtime relief pitcher Steve Reed and several members of the 2007 World Series and 2009 playoff squads, such as Garrett Atkins, Brian Fuentes, Josh Fogg and current Root Sports Rocky Mountain broadcasters Ryan Spilborghs and Cory Sullivan.

Additionally, Root Sports invited Fuentes, the team's all-time saves leader, to serve as an analyst during its pre- and post-game shows Sunday, and Fogg, a gritty starter and fan favorite, is scheduled to work in the same capacity during the team's series in Miami this coming weekend.

Fuentes joins booth

Fuentes, the team's all-time saves leader with 115, was originally drafted by the Mariners, and after playing with the Rockies plied his trade with the Angels, Twins, Athletics and Cardinals, said the Rockies embraced him as soon as he retired.

"It really is my home team," said Fuentes, who retired to his hometown of Merced, Calif., and helps coach his four children in baseball, basketball and golf. "When I came to Colorado, that's where I feel I really established myself as a player, and playing for them as long as I did it really feels like home.

"I've done a little bit of TV, gone on for a couple of innings, nothing professional, not like 'Spilly.' My longest stint was three or four innings, and it's an art. Luckily, I had Drew Goodman and George Frazier at the time. They're professionals."

Fogg also pitched for the Pirates, Reds and White Sox, but it was in Colorado that he was nicknamed "Dragonslayer" in 2007 because he had a penchant for wins against the game's most celebrated pitchers.

"All these fans were like, 'Ah, the Dragonslayer,' and I was telling them I don't hear that anywhere but here," said Fogg, who has retired to Florida. "I could walk around Tampa with my jersey on and they'd be like, 'Why do you have a Fogg jersey on? I don't know who that is.' It's nice to come back and actually be remembered.

"It's not like I was a great player, but I was part of a great team."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for based in Denver.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.