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Inexperienced Barnes a seasoned pro off bench

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DENVER -- The sparkplug off the bench often is a highly experienced player, but the Rockies' Brandon Barnes is excelling despite being in just his second full season.

Barnes' triple in the ninth inning of Friday night's 13-5 loss to the Marlins was his Majors-leading 15th pinch-hit, and no pinch-hitter has as many triples as Barnes' three.

At 28, after going through a long Minor League apprenticeship before finally starting for the Astros in center field much of last year, Barnes has everyday dreams. But he has put full effort into the role available to him. He started Saturday night against the Marlins and carried a .255 batting average with six home runs and 20 RBIs. He's batting .288 as a pinch-hitter.

"I handle the role like I'm 12 years old, only with a more mature approach," Barnes said. "I love the game. Whether it's as a regular player, spot-starting or coming off the bench, I love watching the game, I love playing the game. Whatever is asked of me, I'm going to do to the best of my abilities.

"Coming off the bench isn't easy, but it's something I take pride in. I'm always ready. In the third inning, I'm stretching, warming up, hitting a little bit, watching video of guys I might possibly face, and keeping an eye on the starting pitcher. I, in my heart, think I can play every day, but that's not what's asked of me right now. That's fine with me."

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.

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