PHOENIX -- Before joining the Rockies for the first time on Thursday, infielder Ryan Wheeler had to practice self-control.
Before being called up, Wheeler was having an effective season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, batting .348 with four doubles, two home runs and 16 RBIs in 15 games. On Wednesday night, he boarded a plane for the Sky Sox's trip to Tucson.
"At mid-flight, Glenallen [Hill, the Colorado Springs manager] came to me and said, he wanted to meet with me and it was important because I had missed something," Wheeler said. "But he said, 'We're not going to have a chance to do that. You're going to the big leagues tomorrow.' Then he goes and sits down in his chair, and I'm supposed to contain myself."
Wheeler, 24, debuted in the Majors with 50 games for the D-backs last year before the Rockies acquired him for left-handed relief pitcher Matt Reynolds. Wheeler will be used at third base and first base. He started Thursday's game at third, with manager Walt Weiss believing his left-handed bat gives the Rockies a better matchup against righty Trevor Cahill than the regular third baseman, right-handed-hitting Chris Nelson.
"Reports were that [Wheeler] was swinging the bat real well down there," Weiss said. "I wanted to get him involved right away. He can hit. That's been Ryan's ticket."
Wheeler, who hit .239 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 50 games for the D-backs last year, played third base primarily during his last two seasons with the D-backs in the Minors, and played mostly third in the Majors as well. But he has always played a healthy number of games at first, and played at first base this year in Colorado Springs because Rockies prospect Nolan Arenado is playing third.
The Rockies also could have called up outfielder Charlie Blackmon or outfielder/first baseman Tyler Colvin, both of whom have solid Triple-A numbers, but decided the corner infielder Wheeler was a better fit. Fans have clamored for Arenado, but Weiss said it's not a good move for a potential impact player like Arenado to make his debut with sporadic playing time.
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.