DENVER -- Wilin Rosario's smile is as big as ever, even if he isn't.
Rosario returned to the Rockies on Sunday morning, after missing 12 games with a vicious flu, at 219 pounds -- nine pounds less than his usual playing weight.
He was in the lineup in the series finale against the Padres batting seventh after playing a full game Friday night and three innings Saturday night on an injury rehab assignment at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
The rehab was the end of a long road back from the terrible place he was on May 2, when he willed his way through a 10-3 victory over the Mets. He dealt with body soreness, dry eyes and often had to interrupt his at-bats for his uncomfortable and futile cough. He somehow managed an infield hit that night.
"I never got this before in my life, and I don't want anybody to have this," Rosario said. "At one point, I felt like, I don't know, I might ... I don't want to say that. But I felt like if I pass away or something like that ...
"At some point, the light bothers your eyes a lot and you can't open them. I felt like I couldn't walk around because I'd get dizzy. You don't have [an appetite] to eat because you feel if put something [in your stomach], you throw up. It's bad, man."
The virus hit the Rockies' hard. Rosario's case wasn't even the worst. Infielder Josh Rutledge went on the 15-day disabled list a few days before Rosario. He has since been optioned to Colorado Springs and is still recovering.
"Josh still looks skinny," Rosario said. "You can see him skinny. But we're getting there. We keep eating good, a lot of carbohydrates so you can recover."
Rockies manager Walt Weiss is happy to see Rosario. On Tuesday, Michael Cuddyer is expected to return from a left hamstring injury that has kept him out since April 18. It'll be the first time since April 18 that the Opening Day lineup has been together, yet the Rockies went into Sunday with a 24-20 record, three games behind the National League West-leading Giants.
"He's another weapon, another dangerous bat to out in the lineup," Weiss said of Rosario. "Yeah, but Bull does a look a little smaller. But it's good to have him back in the lineup.
"No doubt about it, he's another one of our guys who can hit it into the seats. We have a number of those guys."
Rosario said he isn't 100 percent, but he feels good enough to play and figures the rest of his recovery will come.
Rockies celebrate Kollmar as Honorary Bat Girl
DENVER -- Being at the Coors Field dugout on Sunday afternoon with her father and her 16-year-old son was an unexpected treat for Carrie Kollmar of Westminster, Colo. But for nine years, she has defied expectations and used her fortune to help others.
Kollmar was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer on Jan. 14, 2005. It spread to her liver a week later, and she was given 18 months. But after a six-month chemotherapy regimen, and several surgeries later, Kollmar is a nine-year Stage IV cancer survivor.
Now Kollmar is dedicated to offering hope to other women like her -- young enough not to have caught the warning signs early and, therefore, often in advanced cancer stages when diagnosed. Over the years on Valentine's Day, she has volunteered to deliver gifts and, more importantly, be a friend to those going through the illness through an organization known as Project Valentine.
Her inspiring story and her dedication to giving back led her friend, Jen Laidlaw, to nominate her to be the 2014 Rockies' Honorary Bat Girl. As one of each club's winner, Kollmar participated in pregame festivities and was honored during an on-field ceremony before Sunday's game against the Padres. She received MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game.
She was able to share he experience with her father, Mel, and her older son, Jesse, 18, who is graduating from Pomona High School. She also has a younger son, Joey, 14.
Kollmar said she didn't have a chance to participate this past year, but Project Vallentine -- stared by Colleen Anderson, who was diagnosed on Valentine's Day and knitted gifts for others during her treatment -- is one of her favorite activities. Volunteers spend the year collecting handmade gifts, and deliver them with love on a day when patients truly need it.
"One of my favorite things to do is to sit and talk to people going through treatment while they're sitting there in treatment during Valentine's Day; to sit and talk to them and give them hope, because I remember what it felt like to be that sick," she said. "They really need to feel like there's some light at the end of the tunnel. It's a really dark tunnel."
Kollmar remembers the person who helped her most, Ann Seeber, who taught English to at-risk students in Denver Public Schools. She and Seeber went to retreats where they learned how to prepare their friends and family for their deaths.
Seeber is always with Kollmar. She reached into her back pocket to show just how much.
"She's passed away," Kollmar said. "I know this may seem weird. That's her ash. I brought it with me here today.
"She was my touchstone, for short. I take her with me everywhere."
Kollmar said her friend who nominated her is a big Rockies fan. As for Kollmar, she said she tries to be. But in reality, there is no way her credentials as a fan can be doubted.
"My kids were always in ball," she said. "I always was there, even through chemo. My friends would hold me up and I would watch them play."
Bothersome knee remains fickle foe for CarGo
DENVER -- At-bat to at-bat, Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez can look like an All-Star and former batting champion, or completely out of sync. Gonzalez admitted Sunday morning that sometimes he feels the way he looks.
Tendinitis in his left knee that made its way to public scrutiny when it flared during an April 20 game is an unpredictable issue. It was part of the problem when his batting average dipped to .232 on April 28, but it subsided during a 10-game hit streak April 28-May 3, when he batted .386 with three home runs and six doubles.
Gonzalez went into Sunday afternoon's game against the Padres with a .270 average, seven home runs and 10 RBIs. Lately, some games have been like Saturday's, when he doubled twice and drove in three runs. But he also went 0-for-12 in a three-game set with the Reds last weekend.
Sometimes, how he feels changes during a game.
"It's weird," said Gonzalez, who originally was bothered by his knee when running the bases, but now admits it bothers him sometimes while hitting or playing left field. "It's one of those injuries that you feel good for a couple of days and then you have bad days for a long period and then one day, 'Oh I feel great today. I feel like I can steal a base.' [But] in the sixth or fifth inning, it starts to get irritated and you get the fatigue."
The left leg is the support leg when he kicks with the right to begin his swing. If that leg doesn't feel right, he'll fire quickly and not be able to keep his bat in the hitting zone. But there's always the chance things will come together and he'll drive the ball the opposite way to the left-center gap the way he did Saturday.
The hope that his swing arrives and stays, which is what his track record indicates, is why he occupies a prime spot in the lineup. Recently, manager Walt Weiss has dropped Gonzalez to cleanup and moved Troy Tulowitzki up a spot, so he'll be in line for RBIs when he does turn hot.
"I'm fighting with that, trying to do anything possible to stay in the lineup every day," he said. "I know I'm going to get hot and I'm not going to be talking about this."
Stubbs focused on contributing, not playing time
DENVER -- At a time when the pieces of the outfield playing time pie figure to become narrower, the Rockies' Drew Stubbs has shown he deserves his piece.
Stubbs did not start Sunday's finale against the Padres, but in his previous three games he was 6-for-12 with a home run, a double, two RBIs and two stolen bases.
Charlie Blackmon's emergence at the start of the season meant less playing time for Stubbs. But Stubbs gained playing time after Michael Cuddyer suffered a left hamstring injury on April 17. From April 29 through Saturday, Stubbs batted .409 (18-for-44) with three home runs and five doubles, and was 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts.
It's not clear how Stubbs will fit in the playing time rotation when Cuddyer returns for Tuesday's start of a three-game set with the Giants, but Stubbs has defined himself as an option.
"You've just got to keep in mind that the season is so long, and you've got to be ready at the drop of a hat," Stubbs said. "That's what I continue to tell myself, make sure you're ready and be patient with the situation. I never fails that there is going to be an injury or this or that."
This is the first time Stubbs, who played for the Reds (2009-12) and the Indians (2013), went into a season not necessarily being counted on for regular playing time.
But throughout his career, he has paid special attention to players who have been in that position. Former Rockie Jason Giambi was that player in Cleveland last season. While with the Reds, he learned from how shortstop Edgar Renteria handled his sporadic opportunities.
"It was 2011 and Paul Janish [now with the Rockies' Triple-A team in Colorado Springs] was the shortstop, and Edgar was an afterthought coming in," Stubbs said. "After the team started struggling he started being inserted into the lineup, and down the stretch he ended up being in there every day.
"His locker was next to mine and I remember him saying, 'Even though I'm not in there all the time, I try to contribute in some way.' It's funny how I happens. A lot of times it comes full-circle and you get to do it on the field, too."
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.