Nelson, 26, the Rockies' 2004 top Draft pick out of high school in the Atlanta area, hit .250 in 63 Major League games in 2011 while bouncing between the Majors and Triple-A Colorado Springs. Believing Nelson could have a greater role in 2012, the Rockies sent third-base coach and infield instructor Rich Dauer to Georgia to work with Nelson for three days in January.
Manager Jim Tracy has used Nelson at third base, second base and shortstop this spring. Dauer helped Nelson with his fielding.
Now, with the Rockies wanting to see once and for all what they have in Nelson, and with projected starting third baseman Casey Blake battling neck soreness, Nelson has a chance to entrench himself solidly on the roster. He even has a chance of grabbing a starting spot.
Last season, Nelson hit too many balls into the air, and had problems handling the inside pitch. He has worked on those weaknesses. The result so far is a .267 batting average, with two doubles. He has five strikeouts and no walks, so there is still improvement needed. But his progress is real.
"He's taken some good at-bats this spring," Tracy said. "At Maryvale, he took two terrific at-bats against [the Brewers'] Yovani Gallardo. He's doing it against guys that you're going to see pitching in the big leagues."