DENVER -- DJ LeMahieu wants to make his turn as the Rockies' starting second baseman last.
LeMahieu began the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but after being called up on May 16, he supplanted Josh Rutledge as the Rockies' regular second baseman. July hasn't been as productive offensively as May and June, but LeMahieu (.268, one homer, 12 RBIs, 11 stolen bases) has played consistently above-average defense.
Not that he needed confirmation, but LeMahieu received it Monday, when the Rockies sent Rutledge to Colorado Springs for the second time this year. Jonathan Herrera will serve as the utility infielder and occasional starter, but the position will continue to be primarily LeMahieu's.
"You never take anything for granted," LeMahieu said. "I started the year in Triple-A, so I know things can change quickly."
Before Monday night's start against the Marlins, LeMahieu was hitting just .232 in July, although he is on the upswing. He started two games against the Cubs -- the team that traded him and Colorado Springs outfielder-first baseman Tyler Colvin to the Rockies for third baseman Ian Stewart in December 2011 -- and went 3-for-9 with a double.
But LeMahieu, who played more shortstop and third base than second with the Cubs, has displayed the quick hands on defense that helped lead the Cubs to select him in the second round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of LSU. Even more, his knack for positioning based not only on scouting reports but on how a game is progressing has helped his learning curve.
"I'm always trying to read guys' swings and know how our pitchers are pitching to hitters," LeMahieu said. "Our advance coach and Stu Cole [the third-base coach and infield coach] do a good job. But I'm always trying to read swings. That goes for all of our infielders.
"It's not fun when you're slumping, but you've got to do something to get yourself out of it. If I can make a big play defensively or steal a base, it helps the team out."
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "He's played aggressively, he's stolen some bases and looked for opportunities to do that. He's stolen some bases and given us some consistent, good at-bats over the past several weeks."
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.