06/21/08 9:43 PM ET
Tough choice for Hurdle at second
Baker continues to thrive, but Barmes returning soon from DL
By Jeff Birnbaum / MLB.com
Baker entered the middle game of a weekend series against the Mets with a home run in four consecutive games, the first Rockie to do so since Matt Holliday accomplished the feat late last year. Another homer Saturday would help Baker join Colorado legends Larry Walker (1999) and Dante Bichette ('95) as the only Rockies to hit homers in five straight games.
Not bad for a career utility man who had just 10 total home runs before the season.
But Baker received increased playing time at second base after Troy Tulowitzki and Clint Barmes were injured, and he's responded by swinging one of the hottest bats on the team. In his past seven games, Baker is hitting .375 with 10 runs, nine hits, six RBIs, and of course, those four home runs.
"There's been stretches where you see the ball great, but you just don't get hits," Baker said. "I'm seeing the ball and feel comfortable."
He's seeing the ball so well that it'd be almost unfathomable to take him out of the lineup. But with Barmes expected to return to the Rockies from a sprained right knee as early as Monday, manager Clint Hurdle will have to make a decision on who to start at second.
Baker has been an instrumental part of the Rockies' recent turnaround, but Barmes was hitting .343 with 20 RBIs in 39 games before the injury.
It'll be a tough decision, but Hurdle will have a few extra days to decide. The Rockies begin a six-day road trip Monday against the Royals and Tigers, and will be able to use a designated hitter.
Baker said his preparation won't change regardless of what Hurdle chooses to do.
"Everybody wants to be out there, no matter who it is," Baker said. "But it's not going to change anything I do. Every day I'll check the lineup card and see if I'm in there, and if I am, I'll go out and give it my best effort. If I'm not, I'll be prepared to get a big hit [as a pinch-hitter] that night."
Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.