LeMahieu making case for future playing time

LeMahieu making case for future playing time

LeMahieu making case for future playing time
DENVER -- DJ LeMahieu is putting himself in what could be a difficult but pleasant conversation about the Rockies' infield future.

The trade of veteran second baseman Marco Scutaro to the Giants opened starting opportunities for LeMahieu, who has hit for a .383 average (going into Tuesday night against the Brewers) since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on July 17. In five starts at second base, he was 11-for-17 with a double and a home run, plus five RBIs and six runs.

The recent pace is more than one can reasonably ask, but if LeMahieu -- a Cubs second-round pick in 2009 who joined the Rockies in an offseason trade -- can stick with the good-hitting habits he is developing, he will be a candidate for future starts and playing time.

Recent callup Josh Rutledge has provided standout hitting at shortstop (.327, six homers, 20 RBIs) since his callup from Double-A Tulsa. Rutledge is expected to move to second base when regular shortstop Troy Tulowitzki returns from his left groin injury, probably in September. But LeMahieu has presented himself as a viable option at second. The Rockies also have Chris Nelson, a strong defender at second and third who has been affected by various injuries this season.

LeMahieu, 24, out of LSU, said he is just glad to be part of a talented group of young players.

"I'm just happy to be doing well right now, hoping to ride it out as long as I can, keep producing, and helping the team win," LeMahieu said. "You can see the talent with the young guys, position players and pitchers. When we all get going on a consistent basis, there's going to be a lot of talent on the field and it's going to be pretty exciting. Everyone kind of sees that, too."

Trimming some of the uppercut out of his swing path has helped LeMahieu, who at 6-4 and 205 pounds is big for a second baseman but nimble enough to handle the job defensively. "I've been working hard with Carney [Lansford, the Rockies' hitting coach] and 'Trace,' [manager Jim Tracy] working hard on my swing," he said. "It was stuff I've always done and gotten away with, swinging up on the ball and not staying on top of it. At this level, you can't get away with that. It's a couple minor things.

"I guess it's starting to pay off a little bit. The more comfortable I feel mechanically at the plate, the more comfortable I'm going to be up there."