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Atkins has a fan in manager Hurdle

Atkins has a fan in manager Hurdle

DENVER -- The Rockies' Garrett Atkins may be quiet. But he's not underappreciated, as far as manager Clint Hurdle is concerned.

Atkins has five doubles in the Rockies' last seven games. His 21 RBIs this month were tied for second in the National League going into Saturday night's game against the Reds.

But with suddenly stellar starting pitching, the revelation that is Ian Stewart at third base, and trade rumors involving left fielder Matt Holliday and relief pitcher Brian Fuentes, Atkins hasn't been front-burner conversation.

Yet his move from third to first base to replace the injured Todd Helton made Stewart's callup possible. His run production has helped fuel a hot streak that could make any deal to jettison talent unnecessary.

"He finds a way," Hurdle said. "I like him. I like him on our team. There have been some situations where he's been challenged since he's been here. But the way he goes about his work, the way he shows up, it's tough not to pull for him.

"I pull for him. I'm a fan. I guess it's always good when the manager is a fan of yours."

Atkins had two doubles in Friday night's 7-2 victory over the Reds in the opener of a three-game series and key 10-game road trip. It improved Atkins' hit streak to eight games. Overall, he entered Saturday batting .303 with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs.

And he has regained his clutch hitting. He is hitting .313 in his last 32 at-bats with runners in scoring position. He languished early, so his average in that situation is just .235, but he has become a threat.

"Everybody's been swinging the bats well, and we haven't really done that all year," Atkins said. "I knew this offense is starting to come around. Guys are starting to hit with runners in scoring position. Everyone is contributing.

"Our lineup is not based around one guy. We need our lineup to be clicking, and that's what's going on now."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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