Barmes slides into leadoff spot

Barmes slides into leadoff spot

DENVER -- Willy Taveras' greatest offensive asset is his speed. But when he can't get on base, that strength becomes moot.

Taveras, the Rockies' center fielder, has hit a brick wall at the plate. He didn't have a hit in his past four games and was in a 3-for-25 rut before Wednesday's game against the D-Backs. Though he leads the Majors with 51 stolen bases, he has swiped just one bag during this 10-game homestand.

Taveras' recent struggles prompted Rockies manager Clint Hurdle to tweak the lineup Wednesday. Hurdle had Clint Barmes bat leadoff, with Taveras following in the two-hole.

"It's been a hard two weeks for our offense, and a hard two weeks for Willy at the top of the order," Hurdle said. "I'm just looking to flip it around."

With both Scott Podsednik (fractured pinky) and Ryan Spilborghs (strained oblique) on the disabled list, Hurdle turned to Barmes, who entered Wednesday with hits in six of his past seven games. In three games at leadoff, Barmes is 2-for-8 with a run and a stolen base.

"I'm not going to change my approach," Barmes said. "I've moved around in the lineup a lot this season. That's one thing I've tried not to do, is change anything no matter where I am in the lineup."

Taveras couldn't come through in two key situations during Tuesday night's 4-2 loss. With the game tied and two on in the fifth, Taveras popped out to shallow left on the first pitch. Then, with the Rockies down two and runners on the corners in the seventh, he grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Barmes said he hoped he could provide a spark if he faced similar situations Wednesday.

"Hopefully I can get on base and we can get some guys to score some runs early," he said. "Obviously mixing it up a little bit is something we needed to do."

Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.