DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado just might have caught the bug left behind last year by infielder Marco Scutaro.
From Opening Day until he was traded to the Giants last year, Scutaro hit .271. With the Giants in the last 36 games of the regular season, Scutaro hit .362, then was one of the team's best offensive players in its run to the World Series title. Those who watched the at-bats closely believe simple fortune was the difference between the numbers in Denver and those in San Francisco.
Now Arenado, a rookie, entered Sunday's game against the Cubs at .239. The hits have been hard -- 16 doubles, two triples and seven home runs out of 66 hits. Many of the outs also have been hit hard, which has led to plenty of late-night, sanity-preserving talks with veterans Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton.
"It hurts mentally sometimes; the whole thing is you want to help the team win, but when you're getting out all the time and not helping the team win, it bothers you," Arenado said. "It gets a little frustrating. But Tulo and Todd have helped keep me grounded."
On Sunday, he hit sixth, but the previous two games he batted eighth -- often a tough spot because opposing pitchers, realizing the pitcher usually is on deck, avoid hittable pitches.
Arenado has made a couple of successful in-game adjustments. He drew an eighth-inning walk Friday that helped get effective Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija out of the contest. On Saturday night Arenado had an RBI grounder.
"It's different, a tough place to hit, because you may see one good pitch an at-bat," Arenado said. "But I've got to adjust and compete. I know things haven't gone my way lately, but I still keep hitting the ball hard. I'll be fine."
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.