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After filling in for Tulo, Herrera turns in defensive gem

After filling in for Tulo, Herrera turns in defensive gem play video for After filling in for Tulo, Herrera turns in defensive gem

LOS ANGELES -- Rockies infielder Jonathan Herrera's playing opportunities are sporadic and his chances at shortstop, his natural position, are rare.

But Herrera, who replaced Troy Tulowitzki in the third inning of Sunday's 4-2 loss to the D-backs, after Tulowitzki suffered a mild left rotator cuff strain, made the most of his opportunity with a highlight backhand play and strong throw during Sunday's seventh inning.

Herrera ranged to his right to backhand a Cliff Pennington grounder and make a twisting, leaping throw. It was the type of play the much bigger Tulowitzki makes with regularity. Teammates take to Herrera's energy, and the play gave the team a lift.

"Everybody was excited," Herrera said. "They know I can make plays like that, too. 'Tulo' has a couple of Gold Gloves. You can't compare with him. But I work hard, take a lot of ground balls during batting practice, and I've been working on it my whole life. I made that play a lot in the Minors.

"When I made that play, everybody felt happy. They were laughing in the dugout. Jordan [Pacheco, the first baseman on the other end of the throw] was like, 'That's great. You can make that play, too.'"

Herrera is employed because of his defense, but he has managed a .308 batting average and three RBIs. Herrera started Monday and batted eighth. Tulowitzki took batting practice indoors Monday and hoped to return Tuesday.

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.

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