Nelson settling in nicely at third base

Nelson settling in nicely at third base

SAN DIEGO -- Third baseman Chris Nelson returned to the lineup Sunday after a day off. He is coming off his best defensive night of the season Friday, in a 7-5 Rockies victory that included one sliding stop and two highlight-reel plays.

Nelson went to his right and made a long throw across the diamond to retire Jedd Gyorko, with first baseman Todd Helton using nifty footwork at the receiving end. In the seventh, Nelson snatched a Jesus Guzman hard one-hopper, complete with a matador's flourish at the end, and retired him to lead off the seventh. The play saved runs, since the Padres scored twice in that inning to take a lead.

From his 2010 Rockies debut through last offseason, Nelson was a utility infielder. After becoming the starting third baseman to start last season, Nelson has found that playing one position simplifies his preparation.

"I know I'm in the National League and I need to know how to play a couple of different positions, but just now my focus is definitely on one goal," Nelson said. "It's definitely better than what I was doing before."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for 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.