ATLANTA -- A team of Venezuelan baseball players aged 16-18 won the Latin American championship of an international baseball tournament, and with it a trip to South Carolina. The team also received an unexpected treat on Monday.
Venezuela was off from Little Big League World Series play, so Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez -- who once played in the tournament against future Rockies teammate Troy Tulowitzki and future Nationals pitcher Tyler Clippard -- arranged for a bus to bring the group to Atlanta.
Gonzalez also donated each of the players two pairs of shoes -- one with plastic spikes, one with actual spikes -- plus shoes for the coaches
Several Venezuelan-born Rockies -- infielder Jonathan Herrera, catcher Yorvit Torrealba and pitcher Jhoulys Chacin -- hosted the players, who also met Tulowitzki and Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. The team was on the field as a guest of the Rockies for Monday's game against the Braves.
CarGo goes 5-for-5 in return to lineup
ATLANTA -- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez's sprained right middle finger didn't hamper him against the Braves on Monday night, his first action since aggravating the injury last Thursday.
Gonzalez went 5-for-5 to tie a career high for hits in a game -- he was 5-for-5 against the Cubs on May 14 at Wrigley Field -- and stole two bases in the Rockies' 9-8, 10-inning loss.
Gonzalez's steals brought his season total to 21. He also has 26 home runs -- one fewer than the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez, who overtook him for the National League lead on Monday.
Gonzalez has 20 homers and 20 steals in four straight seasons, the longest such streak in the Majors. Gonzalez and current Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette (1994 and '96) are the only players in club history with multiple 20/20 seasons.
"I just didn't try to be too aggressive," Gonzalez said. "I just tried to be nice and easy at the plate and try to get a good pitch and put the barrel on it. A lot of good things happen when I take that approach at the plate."
Gonzalez had his career night in front of a Venezuelan national team of 16-18-year-olds. Gonzalez arranged a bus to bring them from a tournament in nearby South Carolina to Atlanta, where they met Gonzalez, who once played for the same team, fellow Rockies Venezuelans Jhoulys Chacin, Yorvit Torrealba and Jonathan Herrera, as well as Dexter Fowler and Troy Tulowitzki.
Then Gonzalez put aside the pain in his finger, which he'll deal with for the rest of the season, and served as a dominant Rockies force. Gonzalez drove in two runs, including the tying run in the ninth.
Other than the loss, the drawback to the night was that he was caught stealing by Braves catcher Evan Gattis with a perfect throw in the seventh inning. The play ended the inning.
"I feel better," Gonzalez said before the game. "I gave it some rest and now I'm ready to go out there and play. It's tough sitting on the bench watching. I just have to get out of that hole."
Gonzalez originally sustained the injury swinging at a pitch from the D-backs' Patrick Corbin on July 7. The injury initially cost him some starts, but he stayed in the lineup until it flared again Thursday.
"I had a good conversation with him yesterday and he felt like he would be ready to go, so I put his name in the lineup before he got here and could tell me different," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It's probably going to be an issue off and on. All it takes is one weird swing and that thing acts up again. But I have to play it like that.
"It's trying to find that balance. That's why we just check with him every day to see how he's feeling. He wants to be out there. We want to make a push in the second half and he's doing everything to be out there."
Rockies promote Culberson from Triple-A
ATLANTA -- Glenallen Hill, the manager at Triple-A Colorado Springs, offered Charlie Culberson more than just a position change. He was giving Culberson a new path to the Majors.
Culberson displayed decent hitting and top-shelf athletic ability as an infielder, but was not at the top of the list of backup plans for the Rockies. After a week playing in the outfield, Culberson, 24, earned a call-up to the Majors on Monday. as the Rockies sent backup first baseman Jordan Pacheco to Colorado Springs.
"He's a person who has helped me and a lot of other guys," Culberson said. "About a week ago, he said, 'Have you ever played outfield?' I said, 'When I was a little kid.' He said, 'You're fine. Go to left.'
"I did that and started taking some balls in center. A few days later, I played outfield again, and I just asked him, 'What's the deal? Is there a reason?' Because I figured there was. He said, 'I'm just trying to get you to the big leagues.'"
During Spring Training, manager Walt Weiss liked the athletic ability and hitting potential of Culberson, who appeared in six games with the Giants last season (.139) and ended up receiving a World Series championship ring. Now Weiss will give Culberson a shot. Culberson was hitting .310 at Colorado Springs.
"He's athletic enough to pull it off and he's swinging the bat really well," Weiss said. "He runs real well. It's a nice piece to have on the bench."
The Giants presented Culberson with his ring by sending it to their Triple-A Fresno team, which presented it to Culberson during an on-field ceremony before a game in Colorado Springs.
Culberson, who is from Rome, Ga., and lives with his wife in Augusta, Ga., during the offseason, brought the ring and said he would give it to either his parents or his in-laws. He is the only current Rockies player with a World Series ring.
Culberson, ranked the Rockies' No. 16 prospect by MLB.com, was obtained from the Giants last year for second baseman Marco Scutaro.
Pacheco sent to Triple-A to play catcher
ATLANTA -- The demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs could mark the beginning of the next phase of Jordan Pacheco's career.
Pacheco hit .309 in regular duty at first and third base last year as a rookie, but labored at .229 in 69 games this year while sharing first base with veteran Todd Helton.
But at Colorado Springs, Pacheco will return to playing catcher -- the position the Rockies earmarked him for early in his Minor League career.
Pacheco made the team at the start of last year as an infielder and appeared in just seven games behind the plate. This year, Pacheco has caught twice, with no starts.
Many around the Rockies believe catcher is Pacheco's best defensive position. The Rockies have veteran Yorvit Torrealba backing up young and still-raw Wilin Rosario, but the Rockies could increase Pacheco's catching time.
"It's been tough finding Jordan consistent at-bats here lately," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's going to be a big part of this club. So we want him to get consistent at-bats and be back.
"He'll play some first, too, but Jordan will be doing a lot of catching. He can certainly do that. To have a guy who's a catcher who can be offensive like Jordan would be good. Going out there every day, he hit .300 in this league. So he showed he can handle at-bats. There's always a place for those guys."
Oswalt to throw bullpen session on Tuesday
ATLANTA -- Right-handed pitcher Roy Oswalt, coming back from a hamstring injury he sustained on July 7, will throw a pitch bullpen session at Turner Field on Tuesday, then plans to face hitters in a simulated game when the Rockies travel to Pittsburgh this weekend.
If all goes well, Oswalt will begin a rehab assignment with an eye toward returning to the Majors after a couple of starts. Oswalt signed with the Rockies in May and joined the team on June 20, going 0-4 with a 7.64 ERA in four starts. He struggled to regain his timing on secondary pitches, but felt he was progressing before the injury.
"He's progressing nicely," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, who said he isn't sure when Oswalt will be fit to return. "He's progressing well beyond where we thought he would be. We're just going to keep giving him a little bit more as we move forward."
• The Rockies are expected to call up right-handed pitcher Chad Bettis, their second-round Draft pick in 2010 out of Texas Tech, from Double-A Tulsa to start against the Braves on Thursday night.
Bettis, 24, is 3-4 with a 3.14 ERA in 12 starts at Tulsa in a season interrupted by an oblique injury that cost him most of May and all of June. In his last start on Saturday against Northwest Arkansas, he pitched seven scoreless innings with two hits, eight strikeouts and three walks.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.