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04/28/08 9:50 PM ET
Baker gets consecutive starts at second
Rockies trying to find more playing time as his bat heats up
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Rockies infielder Jeff Baker has hit safely in his last three starts, but it's hard to call it a streak since his starts have been few and far between. But Monday night, he'll finally have his first streak (of sorts) of starts. The game against the Giants will mark the first time Baker has started consecutive games all season. Baker, who will play second base, is the last player to get consecutive starts. Whether Baker can get enough playing time to capitalize on his power potential is still an open question. With the Rockies having designated Jayson Nix for assignment, and with the club having gone with an additional pitcher rather than a position player, Baker could get more chances. Clint Barmes has hit .324 after emerging as the primary second baseman. Baker knocked an RBI single and went 1-for-5 in Sunday's 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Dodgers. He hit the ball hard in all but his final at-bat. Hard outs have been the norm for Baker, who has a .185 average but has hit .308 (4-for-13, three RBIs) in his last three starts. "I'm working more on trying to have quality at-bats, and yesterday was an example of that," Baker said Monday. "I'm not worrying about the results." Monday will be Baker's fifth start at second base. He also has a start at first, the only game Todd Helton didn't start. His primary position through the Minors was third, but Garrett Atkins has started every game there. He can play the outfield corners, but that situation is crowded as well. "Right now it's an opportunity to find more at-bats for him, and it's not taking away from Barmes and what he's accomplished," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "The offensive dynamic is something I need to check out, at least look at with Bake." Hurdle replaced Nix with right-handed reliever Jose Capellan, rather than an infielder, because of the bullpen's heavy workload -- 94 innings, tied for third-most in baseball. Although the bullpen was spared by deep starts the last two games, Hurdle said some relievers, such as Kip Wells and Taylor Buchholz, who have shouldered tough innings, would be better served with lighter loads for a few days.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.