Rutledge to hone second-base skills in Minors

Rutledge to hone second-base skills in Minors

SAN FRANCISCO -- The hot hitting of DJ LeMahieu -- .412 in seven games since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs -- allowed the Rockies to send Josh Rutledge to Colorado Springs to continue the transition to second base.

Rutledge showed promise last year after being called up from Double-A Tulsa and playing shortstop in Troy Tulowitzki's absence. Rutledge slumped during the Rockies' last homestand and was hitting .242 at the time of the demotion. But some fielding issues, many centering on footwork, cropped up in his recent Major League games. He can address it all in Colorado Springs.

"We asked a lot of him, to learn a new position at the Major League level," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "With DJ swinging the bat like he has all year, including down in the Springs, he created some opportunities for himself.

"Josh wasn't going to be playing all the time up here. It's important for his development to be getting consistent at-bats and time at second base. Josh is going to be a big part of this club. I told him I thought he handled the transition very well. It's a tougher transition than people think. The angles are different. The pivot is different."

LeMahieu has had starts in the second, sixth, seventh and eighth spots in the batting order. Against Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, Weiss put rookie Nolan Arenado in the No. 2 spot for the first time and placed LeMahieu eighth.

Demoting Rutledge meant the Rockies would go with five outfielders and four infielders for the first time this season. Weiss said Charlie Blackmon's arm and defense are valuable late in games. Eric Young Jr., who has been a part-time starter but is slumping offensively and struggling at times defensively, figures to be an offensive option as either a pinch-hitter or baserunner. Weiss also said it's possible Young will play some second base as a reserve.

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.