Adames thrilled by opportunity to back up Tulo

Adames thrilled by opportunity to back up Tulo

PHOENIX -- Although he'd love to eventually become another Troy Tulowitzki, being Cristhian Adames hasn't been so bad this spring.

Adames, 22, a Rockies middle infield prospect, entered his start at shortstop against the Athletics on Thursday night having played 36 innings at shortstop -- and with six innings Thursday he surpassed Paul Janish as the team leader at the position -- along with 15 at second base. If the day ended in "y," Adames has played.

The Rockies announced Thursday night that Adames was among the nine players optioned to the Minors.

Being a young player behind a star is part of the Spring Training life. The team doesn't want to overplay its key guy, so you'll play until the immediate roster candidates need the action. And with Tulowitzki out with a left calf bruise, there always is the possibility the Rockies will call Adames -- or prospect Rosell Herrera, also sent down -- for more action.

But the Rockies have wanted to see Adames, who hit .267 with a .331 on-base percentage, 19 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 36 RBIs at Double-A Tulsa last year. He followed that by hitting .293 with three doubles, two triples, a home run and 16 RBIs in 16 Arizona Fall League games.

"They told me that I was going to play and they were going to give me the opportunity, but I'm surprised because I've played every day," Adames said before Thursday's game and the announcement that he was being sent down. "And I'm not tired.

"My friends and my family, they are happy because I play all the time. I do what I do, and they're happy with me."

Adames entered Thursday with a .250 batting average in 12 games, with several opportunities against established Major Leaguers. The best description of Adames' game is as a bigger version of Jonathan Herrera, the utility infielder the Rockies traded in December to the Red Sox for lefty pitcher Franklin Morales and righty pitcher Chris Martin. Adames said he'd like to be able to play third in addition to short and second, and he loves to handle the bat. Adames had 17 sacrifice bunts last season.

"I have to keep doing the things I do well, situational hitting," Adames said. "Last year, I was everywhere in the batting order -- first, third, ninth. That's the kind of hitter I am, I get on base or bunt or move runners. That's what I need to do."

He also had a chance to learn from one of the best, who was generous with his time.

"I've learned a lot from Tulo," Adames said. "He talked to me about some situations. He is a great leader. I've liked playing with him."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.