Chi Chi Gonzalez Comeback from TJ Surgery Earns Him Tuesday Start for Rockies

Brendan Rodgers placed in IL to make room on 25-man roster.
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Once considered among the elite pitching prospects in the game, Chi Chi Gonzalez was sidetracked the past two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery, limiting him to three minor-league appearances and 10 innings pitched in the short-season leagues last year.

He feels healthy this year.

And after signing a minor-league contract with the Rockies last December, and opening the year at Triple-A Albuquerque, Gonzalez is getting his opportunity to pitch in the big leagues for the first time since 2016.

The former first-round draft pick of the Rangers, Gonzalez was called up from the Isotopes and will start Tuesday's game against the Giants. Gonzalez steps into the spot opened when Jeff Hoffman was sent back to Albuquerque on Sunday.

The Rockies created a roster spot for Gonzalez by placing infielder Bredan Rodgers on the 10-day Injury List with a right shoulder impingement.

Gonzalez was 4-5 with a 5.66 ERA at Albuquerque, but had shown improvement, allowing three earned runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts.

Gonzalez will be making his first big-league appearance since July 7, 2016. He appeared in three games with the Rangers that year. He also appeared in 14 regular season games -- 10 starts -- for the Rangers in 2015, and was 4-6 with a 3.90 ERA. He appeared in relief in Game 3 of the 2015 AL Division Series.

He welcomed the opportunity to make a comeback with the Rockies organization.

"Being out of the game for so long, being lost, essentially, motivated me to get back," Gonzalez told Kyle Newman of the Denver Post.

Manager Bud Black told the media prior to Monday's game against the Giants the latest reports from the staff in Albuquerque were positive.

"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," said Black.

The Isotopes are in a particularly hitter-friendly division. In addition to Albuquerque, it includes El Paso, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

"He has been in the majors before so he won't have issues with poise and composure," said Black. "He is a thinking man's pitcher. The fact that he was such a high pick (23rd choice in first round) out of college tells you something. Here is is, many years later, trying to rejuvenate a career that at one point was promising."