But Sullivan handled the situation much better this season. When the Rockies placed two-time All-Star left fielder Matt Holliday on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring, Sullivan, who was hitting .275 with a .347 on-base percentage at Colorado Springs, was ready.
Last year, Sullivan started the season poorly. If such an injury had occurred, he would not have been playing well enough to receive the call. As the season progressed, though, Sullivan improved, and he wound up hitting .286 in 72 Major League games.
"I never thought last year would be helpful, but in a way, it was," said Sullivan, 28, who signed a $1 million contract in the offseason and maintained that salary in Triple-A. "Mentally, I was disappointed when I got sent down this spring, but I was able to draw on my experience from last year, when I dealt pretty tough with it. It was pretty hard on me, emotionally."
Sullivan said he worked on hitting the inside pitch and tried to improve his baserunning. Without the power of Holliday and other injured players, manager Clint Hurdle allowed that he could return to some of the small-ball style the Rockies used a few seasons ago when they fielded a young lineup. Sullivan could be suited to fit that style of play.
"When I get in the lineup, I'm going to try and provide what I can -- maybe a little bit of spark, offensively -- and when I'm not playing, try to stay positive and keep the team headed in the right direction," Sullivan said.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.