DENVER -- After beginning the season believing Carlos Gonzalez's range made him a good choice to play left field at Coors Field, Rockies manager Jim Tracy has determined Gonzalez's arm makes him the best choice to spend next year in right.
Gonzalez began in left but moved to center when the Rockies demoted Dexter Fowler. After Fowler returned, and after Seth Smith didn't perform as well in right field as he did last year, Tracy began putting Gonzalez in right. In part because of the increased throwing opportunities in right, Gonzalez leads National League outfielders with 12 assists.
In truth, it doesn't matter where Gonzalez plays. Last year, playing in center while Fowler did a stint in the Minors, and by the end of the year playing left at home and right on the road, Gonzalez earned his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Tracy doesn't want him "tennis-balling back and forth."
"When you look at the amount of area that you have to cover from center field to the left-field line, that's a significant amount of territory, and that's the only reason we were doing what we were doing initially," Tracy said. "You're going to play 162, and 81 of them are going to be played in this ballpark. So there's give and take.
"But the arm forces baserunners to stop, or if you decide on trying to score from second base, you run the risk of getting blown up at home plate. That's happened two or three times here recently since we put him over there. You've seen the message that the other side of the field has sent back: We get what you're doing. We'll stop."
Rockies to start Cook in final home game
DENVER -- The Rockies will tab their career wins leader, Aaron Cook, to start their final home game of the season against the Padres on Wednesday afternoon.
It's quite possibly the last start in a Rockies uniform for Cook, 32, who has struggled (3-9, 5.74 ERA) in 16 starts after missing the first two months of the season with a broken ring finger on his right hand. The Rockies dropped him from the starting rotation last week. Cook has an option for 2012 worth $11 million, which means the Rockies are almost certain to pay a $500,000 buyout.
Wednesday's start is more of a thank you for his long run with the organization, which drafted him in the second round in 1997. Since debuting in the Majors in 2002, Cook has gone 72-67 with a 4.50 ERA in 236 games, including 205 starts. He is by far the most successful starter the Rockies have ever selected in the First-Year Player Draft. Jason Jennings is next with 58 wins.
"He's made a lot of significant contributions to the success of this ballclub over the course of the last few years, dating back to 2007," Tracy said. "He well deserves that opportunity."
Cook overcame an oblique muscle injury at the end of 2007 and returned for Game 4 of the World Series, which was the Rockies' best-pitched game in their four-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox. Cook also threw three scoreless relief innings in the '08 All-Star Game, and beat the Phillies in Game 2 of the '09 National League Division Series.
"He's done it extremely well, he's done it with a lot of class, he's done it with a lot of competitive nature about him," Tracy said. "As I remember, I was fishing on Lake Erie when I watched it, the effort that he gave in the All-Star Game back in 2008.
"I believe Carlos Marmol, they wanted him to go an extra inning and he said he couldn't do it. Then they ended up playing  innings, and there was Aaron Cook giving them three tremendous innings."
Tracy said he hopes to find some relief innings before Wednesday for Cook, who has not pitched in a game since Sept. 4.
Tracy hopes Tulo will return by end of season
DENVER -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy holds out hope that shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, suffering from bursitis in his left hip, will return to the lineup before the end of the season.
The Rockies also are keeping a close eye on the sore back of first baseman Todd Helton. Both players left Tuesday night's game at Milwaukee after aggravating their injuries.
In addition, third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff has been slowed by stiffness in his lower back that flared up in recent days.
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.