Rockies’ Tulowitzki has broken wrist

The Colorado Rockies’ struggling offense has suffered a major blow.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki suffered a broken left wrist when he was hit by a pitch from Minnesota reliever Alex Burnett in the Rockies’ 5-1 win in Minneapolis on Thursday.

Tulowitzki underwent X-rays in Minnesota, which were negative, but whwn he was re-examined by Rockies team doctors Friday morning the broken bone was revealed. He is expected to be out six to eight weeks.

“I am not going to shy away from it,” said manager Jim Tracy. “This is a punch in the gut. Every team in baseball has a player, if he is going to sustain an injury for a period of time it is going to take an effort of all the players to get through it.

“Troy is a difficult player to replace because of what he brings to the table every day, his determination, his grit.”

The news was better for the Rockies in regard to center fielder Carlos Gonzalez, their primary leadoff hitter. Gonzalez injured his left knee when he slipped on the outfield turf at Minnesota on Thursday, but after being examined on Friday, he was told he will be available on Saturday. Tracy said it is not out of the question that he could even start.

Ryan Spilborghs started in center field in place of Gonzalez on Friday, and hit third. Left fielder Seth Smith hit leadoff.

Former first-round draft choice Chris Nelson was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Nelson was originally signed as a shortstop, but Clint Barmes, who was moved to second base to accommodate Tulowitzki, will return to shortstop initially, and Jonathan Herrera was at second base on Friday night.

Nelson has played 15 games at second base at Colorado Springs. Tracy said he will have third-base coach Rich Dauer, who works with Rockies infielders, evaluating Nelson defensively. Nelson also played third base with the big-league team during spring training.

Nelson, selected ninth overall in the first round by the Rockies in 2004, has battled injuries throughout his minor-league career, but is hitting .311 with Colorado Springs this season.

Tulowitzki has hit third and fourth this season for a Rockies offense that ranks eighth in the National League with 300 runs scored, and 10th with a .257 batting average. He leads the team with a .306 average, and is second in both home runs with nine, one behind Carlos Gonzalez, and RBI with 34, eight fewer than Gonzalez.

Tulowitzki’s injury is an “avulsion fracture,” but concerns that he might require surgery were eliminated by an MRI that showed the bone chip was in place to heal without interference. Tulowitzki has been told to give the wrist complete rest for four days, and will begin receiving treatment with a bone stimulator after that.

“It will be every bit of six weeks,” said Tracy. “He has to get to the point of being healed and pain free before he can resume baseball activity.”