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R. Wheeler making case for Rockies bench spot

R. Wheeler making case for Rockies bench spot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Left-handed-hitting corner infielder Ryan Wheeler is trying to force the Rockies' hand when it comes to the bench makeup.

Wheeler, 25, has batted .233 with one home run and 17 RBIs in 78 Major League games with the D-backs (2012) and Rockies (2013), but has hit for home run and doubles power throughout his Minor League career. He is bidding to convince manager Walt Weiss to keep a left-handed run producer for the late innings, the way former Rockies manager Jim Tracy did when Jason Giambi was at his disposal.

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Off the bench in Thursday night's 10-5 loss to the Athletics, Wheeler doubled and singled to raise his Cactus League batting average to .385 (10-for-26) with four doubles and a home run.

"We came into camp knowing this guy's got a history of swinging the bat," Weiss said. "He didn't get a lot of opportunities last year with us. But his track record speaks for itself."

The Rockies could keep him by going with 12 pitchers instead of 13 or trimming a backup outfielder. Or since Wheeler can be sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs without being exposed to other teams via waivers, he could be brought up or sent down throughout the season.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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