Nelson's bat, versatility a boon to Rockies

Nelson's bat, versatility a boon to Rockies

DETROIT -- Infielder Chris Nelson's return from a wrist injury on May 31 came at the right time.

With Troy Tulowitzki going to the disabled list with a troublesome left groin injury, the Rockies sorely needed Nelson's defensive versatility. But Nelson also has been a boon to the offense. Going into his start Saturday at second base against the Tigers, Nelson was hitting .333 with a .438 on-base percentage, three home runs and six RBIs in 12 games since rejoining the club.

Nelson's bat was important Friday night against the Tigers, when he tripled and homered while figuring in all four of the Rockies' early runs. Colorado scored eight times in the 10th inning of a 12-4 victory. Nelson's early production was the offensive difference between the Rockies staying in the game or having another weak-hitting road performance.

"With the guys we have on this team, it's very important that the guys in the lower part of the lineup do something to try to spark them," said Nelson, who hit ninth in the batting order Friday and was back in that spot Saturday. "You want them to have opportunities with runners in scoring position."

With Tulowitzki still out, Nelson and rookie Jordan Pacheco, who took the starting job when Nelson was hurt and carried a .301 average into Saturday, both had playing opportunities. In late innings, Pacheco leaves the game, Nelson moves to third and DJ LeMahieu takes over at second to improve the defense.

Nelson, drafted as a shortstop in the first round in 2004, said he likes that the Rockies use his versatility.

"I like playing, so anywhere for me is good," he said.

Nelson entered the season receiving the bulk of playing time over Pacheco. When he tried to play through wrist pain, his batting average dropped to .219 before he went to the DL. Now Nelson is making the most of a chance to show what he can do when healthy.

"What you are seeing is a young guy that is beginning to blossom as a player, has been for awhile and making a significant contribution offensively wherever he is in the lineup," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.