The Colorado Rockies are off to a franchise-best 45-26 start through 71 games, and while just about everything has gone right for the Rockies, the exact opposite has happened for cornerstone Carlos Gonzalez. Yet despite being on pace for career-low numbers, neither Gonzalez nor the Rockies have lost faith.

Coming off a plus 2016 season, the bar was set high for Gonzalez entering 2017, especially with his impending free agency.

So far, Gonzalez has struggled a great deal at the plate. His .219 batting average on the season is significantly down from the .298 average he posted last season. He has batted below .270 only once in his career, as a rookie in Oakland.

Gonzalez has built a reputation over his career as a streaky hitter, but the cold spell he’s going through this season has been the worst of his career. Prior to Friday night’s victory, Gonzalez was 0-for-27 in his previous 27 at-bats, a career-long hitless streak for the slugger.

Since then things have not been much better for the 32-year-old, who only has three hits in his last 11 games.

Despite his prolonged struggles at the plate this season, Gonzalez is confident that his stroke will come around in the near future.

“It’s a nonstop thing,” Gonzalez said. “This is a long season; you are going to go through ups and downs. Right now things are not going well, but I always believe that they are going to be [good]. Mentally, I’m ready. I’m trying to help this club. I’m working as hard as I can, so that’s all I can control.”

Gonzalez is too talented to slump for this long. Sooner or later he will have to find his swing, but for now, the Rockies will keep trying to find ways to get him up to speed. In an attempt to jumpstart Gonzalez, Rockies skipper Bud Black opted to sit him for two consecutive games, something that rarely happens to the biggest names in the game.

The time off helped Gonzalez clear his head somewhat, but what he wants more than anything is to get on the diamond and produce for his team.

“It doesn’t matter,” Gonzalez said of the time off. “They can say we are going to give you plenty of days off or whatever, but you still show up every day. You still want to be a part [of the team], you still want to hit in the cage, do your routine trying to get better, so I think it’s good that sometimes they give you a little time to take a breather. It’s not always the case you always want to continue to work. You don’t just want to sit around and wait until God sends you hits or whatever, you still got to go out there and compete and prepare yourself every day to go battle.”

Gonzalez’s biggest struggle at the plate in this down stretch seems to be his patience. Too many times he chases balls out of the zone early in counts, tries to hit the ball over the fence, or simply is just off in his timing and rhythm.

The big leg kick in his swing doesn’t make fixing the problem any easier, but it’s a CarGo staple – one that has worked for him his entire career.

“In his desire to get hits, there’s been a little expansion of the strike zone,” Black said. “When Carlos is on, he’s taking his walks and hitting balls in the strike zone whether they’re fastballs or off-speed pitches.”

Although he’s struggled, Gonzalez remains an essential part of the Rockies organization. The longest-tenured Rockies player, Gonzalez’s veteran presence alone makes his value nearly irreplaceable for this year’s squad – a team made up primarily of youngsters who have little to no playoff experience.

He may not be hitting currently, but he will at one point during the season, and everybody around the sport knows that when Carlos Gonzalez is locked in at the dish, he’s one of the most lethal hitters in the game.

“Carlos is an integral part of our team now and in the future,” Black reaffirmed. “He is going to help us get to where we want to go; there’s no doubt about it. Is he paying Carlos like right now offensively? No. We have all the confidence in the world that Carlos [can do] what he’s capable of doing.”