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Arenado displaying defensive prowess at third

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CHICAGO -- Tuesday night's 9-4 victory over the Cubs wasn't in doubt, but things could have become hairy after two errors led to a mini Cubs rally in the eighth. But Rockies rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado quieted that by diving toward the line and making a strong throw to beat Alfonso Soriano to end the inning.

Arenado followed that play up with a heady one in the first inning Wednesday. He went to his left for a Soriano grounder, faked to first and was able to run down and tag the lead runner, Anthony Rizzo, who was at second base and planning to go to third if Arenado threw to first.

Much of the anticipation of Arenado's arrival was based on his bat, which was impressive throughout his Minor League career. But Arenado, 22, has proven athletic and savvy with the glove.

"Absolutely he's a plus defender and he's got the kind of abilities that could win multiple Gold Gloves," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "His hands and feet, they look like a middle infielder to me. He's got shortstop hands and shortstop feet when he gets around the ball."

By developing his quickness and smartly trading bulk for lean muscle, Arenado developed exceptional range, especially to his left. His ability to claim more grounders could help shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who is a two-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, but is trying to taper down his effort to reduce the risk of the leg muscle injuries that have been a problem.

"It's nice as a shortstop, knowing that you've got a third baseman that goes to his left well, so you don't have to go to your right and finish plays more than you need to," said Weiss, who played short beside rangy third basemen Carney Lansford, Vinny Castilla and Chipper Jones during his career. "When a shortstop goes to his right, it's tough to finish those plays. The less he has to do that, the easier his job becomes."

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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