Colvin victim of numbers game with Rox

Colvin victim of numbers game with Rox

SALT LAKE CITY -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss said playing only occasionally is not the way for outfielder-first baseman Tyler Colvin to regain his 2012 swing.

Colvin, who was assigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday, struck out 14 times in 46 spring at-bats and hit .167 -- this after hitting .290 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs in a breakout performance last season.

Much of Colvin's production came during consistent playing time that came because of injuries and slumps. The problem now is that Colvin is a backup outfielder and first baseman, and with Eric Young Jr. having earned outfield opportunities and Jordan Pacheco first in line at first base when Todd Helton sits, playing time to start the year would be inconsistent at best. Many starting players around baseball struggled in the spring, but they can work it out with regular at-bats.

"Tyler is a Major League player who had a good season last year," said Weiss, who set the roster Friday and discussed it before Saturday afternoon's exhibition finale against the Mariners at Spring Mobile Ballpark. "He scuffled in Spring Training, and he knows that. He's trying to iron some things out with his swing and this will be a chance for him to get consistent at-bats, as opposed to being up here and getting at-bats every once in a while, and not being able to really iron some things out with his swing.

"He needs to get himself right. We go with just the four outfielders and the extra infielder to protect ourselves in the infield."

The decision allowed the Rockies to keep an extra infielder in switch-hitting Jonathan Herrera, who seemed the odd man out when the club decided to keep versatile Reid Brignac for a utility role. Young is the only backup outfielder.

Brignac has appeared in the outfield three times, totaling 2 2/3 innings, in five Major League seasons. Also, Herrera has played the outfield during past Spring Trainings and during winter ball. In the fifth inning of Saturday's game, Weiss put Pacheco in left field.

One change from the Rockies' bench under previous manager Jim Tracy is the lack of a power hitter, a la Jason Giambi, now with the Indians. In 2009, Giambi had an impact en route to the playoffs. The last two years, the timing was off. In 2010, sometimes games would end without Giambi getting an opportunity because Tracy was saving him. Tracy used Giambi earlier last season, but sometimes the game would continue and Tracy had used his main weapon.

Until Colvin hits his way back to the Majors, Weiss can't play the power card.

The left-handed hitting Brignac has 10 total Major League homers, but had years of 24, 15 and 17 in the Minors. Pacheco hit .309 last year and appears able to come off the bench for a good at-bat, although power isn't his strong suit. Herrera can move runners and sacrifice, but doesn't offer power. Young's calling card is speed.

"There's some give-and-take," Weiss said. "We'll have some guys go up there and give us a professional at-bat, as opposed to hitting a long one with one swing but at the same time those guys swing and miss a lot, too."

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.