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04/25/08 11:23 PM ET

Nix treading carefully during cold streak

Rookie second baseman struggling in season's first month

LOS ANGELES -- Rockies rookie second baseman Jayson Nix might be on precarious Major League footing, with his .128 batting average. In returning him to the starting lineup on Friday night after a four-game absence, manager Clint Hurdle gave an ominous statement:

"He needs to play sooner or later. And if I don't play him, I have to move him. I plan on playing him."

Nix is out of Minor League options, meaning he'd have to clear waivers to be sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs. But maybe Nix, who is hitless in his last 13 at-bats since his last hit (a double), is following some successful footsteps.

Last year, two of baseball's most successful young second basemen were the Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia and the Braves' Kelly Johnson. But last year, each of them had matching .167 averages with no extra-base hits in their first 36 at-bats. Nix has 39 at-bats -- and at least he has a couple of RBIs.

On Friday, Nix wasn't comparing himself at all to Pedroia, who finished with a .317 average, or Johnson, who finished at .276. He was just happy to have another chance.

Pedroia and Johnson continued to receive everyday at-bats. The problem for Nix is Clint Barmes, who was given Friday night off, has hit .333 with two home runs and nine RBIs.

"You always want to be in the lineup but 'Barmie's' been swinging it well," Nix said. "But I feel good. I'm getting good work in. I feel good about what I've got, and I'm going to take it out there on the field tonight."

Of Major League pitching, Nix said, "It's definitely different. I've just got to keep it simple and execute my approach."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.