PHOENIX -- Sometimes a seat on the bench can be a reward. Rockies manager Jim Tracy held third baseman Chris Nelson out of the starting lineup for the final two regular-season games to make sure his batting average stayed in the .300 range.
Nelson entered Wednesday's finale with a .301 average. He could remain at .300 with two hitless at-bats.
After starting at third on Opening Day, Nelson slumped early and was out from May 15-31 with a left wrist injury. He was also on the disabled list from July 16 to Aug. 6 with an irregular heartbeat. The second time he returned, he was hitting .256. But with health and regular playing time, Nelson batted .345 with four home runs and 30 RBIs in 53 games going into Wednesday.
"It's just a special accomplishment, something you dream of as a kid and it came true for me," Nelson said of going into the books as having a .300 season.
It wasn't clear how much he would play or if he would be a regular. Nelson had spent time at second base last season but the Rockies acquired Marco Scutaro for the position. Nelson battled Jordan Pacheco for the starting job at third throughout Spring Training. As the season progressed, both hit well enough to stay in the lineup.
Next season, with numerous injured players expected to be healthy, there could be challenges. Pacheco will need at-bats, and if veteran Todd Helton returns, it could limit Nelson to third. Nelson and Pacheco shared third base during the early weeks of this season. Also, the Rockies have power-hitting prospect Nolan Arenado, who played this year at Double-A Tulsa and could challenge in Spring Training or during next season.
"I feel like it's going to be a battle the whole way, but competition makes everybody better, I don't care who you are," Nelson said. "It was that way with Pacheco and me. You've just got to be ready."
Other hitters at or above the mark are Pacheco -- who was at .306 at the start of the season finale and in line to finish in the top 10 in the National League and lead NL rookies -- Carlos Gonzalez at .303 and Dexter Fowler at .300. Gonzalez (hamstring) and Fowler (wrist) sat out the final days with injuries.