Rockies lose De La Rosa to torn elbow ligament
Rarely has a laugher been such a tear-jerker.
The Colorado Rockies ran all over the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-4 in the opener of a doubleheader Tuesday, but it felt like more of a loss than their 5-2 defeat in the nightcap.
Jorge De La Rosa, their best pitcher, was lost for the season with a torn ligament in his left elbow.
''Guys are going to get hurt, key guys,'' veteran first baseman Todd Helton said. ''You've got to find a way to overcome it. It's something we have no choice but to overcome.''
De La Rosa returned from the hospital just before the Rockies took the field for the nightcap with the bad news: an MRI revealed a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. He'll need Tommy John-style tendon replacement surgery, a procedure that will sideline the hard-throwing left-hander for a year.
''Gave him a hug and said I'm sorry,'' catcher Chris Iannetta said. ''There wasn't much time to talk. He loves baseball and he loves this team. He's obviously extremely upset about it. It's a tough loss but everyone's gotta step up.''
De La Rosa was the Rockies' top pitcher with a 5-2 record and a 3.51 ERA. He was coming off his first career complete game when he got hurt.
With Ubaldo Jimenez still searching for his first win, De La Rosa had been the Rockies' rock.
''He was a big part of our team,'' said Greg Reynolds, who won the opener in relief. ''There's not too many guys that have stuff like Jorge. Someone's going to have to step up. If that's me, I'll be ready for the challenge. If I'm picked to fill the role, I'll give it everything I got and I'll be ready for it.''
Aaron Cook (fractured finger) is set to come off the 60-day DL May 30, although if he makes his final rehab start Saturday he won't be ready to return until the first week of June.
The Rockies are a resilient bunch, manager Jim Tracy said, pointing to their surge last season when closer Huston Street started off on the DL, All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki missed 40 games with a broken wrist and even De La Rosa missed two months with a finger injury.
''Obviously, it's a hit,'' Tracy said. ''I can tell you this right now. We have to move on and find ways. We've done it before.''
De La Rosa left the game with a 1-and-1 count on Chris Young with two runners on in the third.
''As the at-bat progressed it became more evident that there was something wrong. I thought maybe it was a blister or nail issue,'' Iannetta said. ''I went out and talked to him and he didn't really sound good. I saw his demeanor while he was receiving signs and said enough's enough.''
De La Rosa assumed he just had tightness in his elbow, and Tracy let him take a practice pitch but pulled him as soon as he saw him grimace.
''He said let me keep pitching. OK, let's throw a pitch and see what it looks like,'' Tracy recounted. ''Well, I was watching very closely when he threw it and all I had to see was the expression on his face when he turned the ball loose and I said, 'That's all.'''
Carlos Gonzalez homered twice in the opener and the Rockies became the first team to decipher Josh Collmenter's tomahawk-throwing style.
The D'backs bounced back in the nightcap when Joe Saunders (1-5) snapped a personal six-game losing streak and Kelly Johnson hit a solo homer and had one of three RBI doubles off Jhoulys Chacin (5-3) in the sixth inning.
In between games, the Rockies learned they'd be without their best pitcher the rest of the season.
''It's devastating,'' Jason Giambi said. ''He was having a phenomenal year for us, too. I feel terrible for the kid. He was really putting it together. That happens in baseball and now we've got to pull together.''
During the opener, a 27-year-old man was critically injured when he fell from a stairwell leading to the center field seats at Coors Field. Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said the man was hospitalized in critical condition following a fall of approximately 20 feet onto concrete. His name was not released.
Arnie Stapleton can be reached at http://twitter.com/arniestapleton