LeMahieu flashes leather around infield
D.J. has a solid offensive resume, can he pick it?
D.J. has a solid offensive resume, can he pick it?
Publisher
Posted Mar 5, 2012


The fifth starter's job isn't the only battle going on here at Rockies Spring Training. The last few bench spots on the 25-man roster are up for grabs. Charlie Blackmon seems to have the inside track on the 4th outfielder job, but the team is also going to carry a backup infielder. It's early in camp, but that job very well could go to D.J. LeMahieu. 

LeMahieu, acquired along with Tyler Colvin from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers this offseason, is a former second round pick by the Cubs in 2009. 

"My agent kind of gave me a little heads up that something might be happening, but you know I just brushed that off and then it happened and wow," LeMahieu said. "I'm excited to be here, it's a great organization. It's a winning team here and they've had a lot of success in the past and I think it's going to be an exciting year."

LeMahieu has hit at all stops in the minor leagues so far sporting a career .317/.353/.399 line, but his path to breaking camp with the Rockies big club may be on the other side of the ball where he can play second base, third base, and shortstop.

"I pride myself on being versatile and I think it helps playing multiple positions, especially coming off the bench as a roll player," he said. "It helps in my situation to play all three spots."

LeMahieu isn't the quickest defender, so playing the up the middle positions of second base and shortstop is a daily challenge.

"The difference between playing the middle in the corners is that you have to be aware of so much because so much is going on," LeMahieu said. "There are so many little things that you have to pay attention to. Being consistent and staying down on ground balls really helps for playing up the middle."

He's done a good job of showing his versatility with the glove so far in camp as he made two exceptional plays at second base during an intrasquad game and saw time at shortstop and second base in the Rockies split squad game against Arizona on Saturday. 

LeMahieu can also hit. He has an exceptional contact rate with just 135 strikeouts in 1,231 minor league plate appearances. 

"I always pride myself on being a good hitter and getting hits," LeMahieu said. "I think one of these years it's just going to translate and the ball is going to explode off my bat. I made a couple tweaks this offseason, but I think just having a better plan going into at bats is going to help. Looking for certain pitches and sort of a change to my approach."

The power aspect of his offensive game has yet to show up in professional baseball as he's hit a total of just seven home runs. 

"Obviously, you don't want to sacrifice strikeouts [for power]," he said. "I think the key is just to stay the same and picking out certain pitches and staying on them. Maybe being more aggressive in hitters counts, little things like that. Being more mature and a little stronger is obviously going to help too."

It'll be interesting to see whether the tweaks in his game bear fruit and if he can make the 25-man roster at the end of the month. 



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