Herrera filling big shoes for Rockies

Herrera filling big shoes for Rockies

DENVER -- Rockies infielder Jonathan Herrera figured he'd have chances to impress when he was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 31, but the opportunity has turned out to be beyond what he imagined.

Thursday night's finale of a three-game set with the Red Sox was Herrera's 10th start overall and sixth straight. Herrera's opportunity came when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki suffered a fractured left wrist that could keep him out between eight and 10 weeks.

Herrera has made the most of his starts. He entered Thursday night's game with a five-game hit streak and singled in each of his first two at-bats off Boston righty Daisuke Matsuzaka in the series finale.

"When I came up, I realized that I might not play every day, but I could come off the bench as a pinch-hitter or play defense in a double-switch," said Herrera, who moved into the leadoff role, as fellow Venezuelan and childhood friend Carlos Gonzalez moved to Tulowitzki's No. 3 spot in the order. "So now I have the opportunity to play every day. All I can do is play hard and help the team win."

Herrera, 25, whose only previous Major League experience consisted of a 28-game stint in 2008, said he's consciously avoiding thoughts of the future, when Tulowitzki returns.

"I'm trying to get away from that and just take the opportunity, do everything they ask, even if I'm coming off the bench," Herrera said. "Anything is possible if you just play the game, play relaxed and enjoy the moment."

Rockies manager Jim Tracy has confidence in his reconstituted infield. Herrera and Clint Barmes -- who moved from second base to shortstop -- are both rangy, not only on grounders but into the outfield on bloopers. Herrera went into right-center to take a possible bloop hit away from Darnell McDonald in the fifth inning of Wednesday night's 8-6 victory.

"He has tremendous range behind him, and that's very important due to the size of our outfield," Tracy said of Herrera. "The most difficult ball to defend in this ballpark is the ball that is between an infielder and an outfielder if you don't have infield range to close that gap."