Herrera in continuous battle to make roster

Herrera in continuous battle to make roster

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rockies infielder Jonathan Herrera seems to be energized by the annual pressure to make the team.

Herrera doubled twice in Monday night's 4-3 loss to the Reds. The doubles lifted his batting average from .188 to .278.

But in his previous game against the Giants on Sunday, Herrera illustrated a big part of his argument to be included. With runners at first and third in a tie game, Herrera, in the game at shortstop to spell Troy Tulowitzki, ranged behind second base to grab a Brandon Crawford grounder, made a slick throw to first base, then celebrated his play by breaking into a stylish backpedal.

Herrera made the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career in 2011, and beat back several challengers for his spot last season. He has hit .259 with seven home runs and 50 RBIs in 294 career Major League games. But his ability to play second and third solidly and shortstop if pressed into it, as well as his handling of fundamentals -- a .323 on-base percentage and the ability to move runners -- have made him hard to supplant.

And he does it all with flair.

"Every year for me is the same -- I never feel comfortable, never take it for granted, work hard and do everything they ask me to do," said Herrera, who has gotten a charge from having his father, Jesus, in town from Venezuela this week. "Field the groundballs, do the little things. I don't have any shame to move that guy over, get that bunt down, and don't worry about numbers and batting average. I don't know what my average is. Anytime I do one of the little things, that's a hit for me.

"I'm so happy. I have fun."

Manager Walt Weiss understands Herrera's value.

"He can move the ball around the field," Weiss said. "You can hit-and-run with him. He can bunt. He's got a nice approach in those situational at-bats. And of course, he's a professional ball-catcher. You can put him anywhere in the infield and you've got a plus defender."

Herrera is in a group of infielders who are battling for roster spots. Jordan Pacheco, who hit .309 last season, plays third, first and catcher and appears to be safe for a spot. There is also Reid Brignac, a left-handed hitting shortstop, DJ LeMahieu, who started at second base the latter part of last season and Charlie Culberson, a former Giants prospect who has impressed the Rockies with his physical abilities. All but Brignac have Minor League options. Depending on how the roster shakes out, there likely is room for Pacheco and one other.

The bench spots, the fifth starter in the pitching rotation, the three middle relief spots and the backup catcher are decisions the Rockies must shake out the remaining days of camp.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.