5/27/2014 8:42 P.M. ET
Defense establishes LeMahieu at second
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- This time last year, DJ LeMahieu was a week into being called up to the Rockies and trying to prove he could be an everyday player at second base rather than a utility backup. Now it's not even a question in manager Walt Weiss' mind.
Rather than move LeMahieu to third -- a position he plays well -- when Nolan Arenado sustained a broken left middle finger on Friday night, Weiss has kept LeMahieu at second and filled in at third mostly with Charlie Culberson.
LeMahieu had to work for two years to establish himself as someone who should not be moved. Injuries forced LeMahieu into starting duty at second in 2012, and he played solid defense in 81 games. Last year, the Rockies sent him to Triple-A Colorado Springs to work at shortstop, but Josh Rutledge's slow offensive start led the Rockies to recall LeMahieu last May 16. Having finished last year batting .280 and putting up enough defensive stats to earn the Rockies' Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award, based on advanced statistics, LeMahieu has found a home.
"I like being over there, and defense is one of my strengths," LeMahieu said. "I don't mind moving around, either; I've been there, done that plenty of times before and could do that easily as well."
One of the possible perks of remaining at second is such recognition as last year's Wilson award or the Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
According to the Baseball Prospectus Web site, LeMahieu is worth six "total zone runs," which ties him with the Giants' Brandon Hicks for tops in the National League. "Total zone runs" is a number above or below the average player based on the number of plays made. LeMahieu led the league in range factor per nine innings last year, but he doesn't show up in the category nearly two months into this season. How all this translates into statistical measures and perceptions of those who vote on the Gold Glove will reveal itself when the season ends.
"I help our team quite a bit defensively at second," LeMahieu said. "Are awards a goal? Not necessarily. I just try to make plays, try to get our pitchers out of big situations. Awards are something way, way down the road."
Blackmon not fazed by Rox's early road woes
PHILADELPHIA -- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon isn't buying into the doomsday thinking that often settles upon his team's fan base when a lengthy road stretch shows signs of going awry.
Blackmon was part of an offense that was as good as any during the first month-plus of the season. But during the current trip, which started 1-4, Blackmon has come back to earth with the rest of the team. Entering Tuesday night, when he was not in the starting lineup against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, Blackmon was 3-for-13 for the trip, with all the hits coming in the past two games.
For Rockies fans, a bad road trip has often signaled the beginning of the end of relevance, so shutouts at Atlanta on Sunday and Philadelphia on Monday were none too pleasant. But with so much season left and with confidence based on experience, Blackmon does not seem too worried.
"I still think we're going to win this series," Blackmon said of the three-game set in Philadelphia that ends Wednesday. "I still think we're going to have a good road trip. A couple of losses here or there are not going to affect my confidence, affect my outlook on the season or the team. We're going to win games. The best is still to come.
"If this road trip doesn't go well, well, what if I go 0-for-the rest of the season? What if I never get a hit again? We can do that. But that's not something I worry about. If that's how you look at things, you are not going to be a successful baseball player. If you go into a baseball game worrying about not getting a hit or throwing a pitch and worrying about someone hitting a home run, you're going to be a failure."
Blackmon was hitting .402 through April 27, but he knew that wasn't sustainable. Even with the inevitable slowdown, his average entering Tuesday was an enviable .323 -- sixth in the National League.
During the Rockies' latest homestand, Blackmon was seen having treatment on his left wrist. He had it taped before going to the batting cage Tuesday afternoon but said it was not a major issue.
"It's fine, nothing that's affected my gameplay at all," Blackmon said. "It's a maintenance issue, something I want to stay on top of before it affects my game.
"I know I'm not going to hit .400, but I know I'm not going to hit .150 either. It's trying to maintain consistent contact as much as I can. You want to have as many ups as you can and limit your downs."
Blackmon said he did not see a specific problem in approach for the club, which entered Tuesday hitting .195 for the trip, including 1-for-27 with runners in scoring position.
"We've just been lacking that big hit, and that's not something where I'm going to say there's one thing we need to do," Blackmon said. "It's just part of the game. It's going to happen occasionally."
Weiss shuffles lineup, moving Cuddyer to fifth
PHILADELPHIA -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss came up with a simple attempt to remedy the Rockies' issues of not getting the big hit -- move someone who is hitting to a spot where the hits could be big.
For Tuesday night's game against the Phillies, Weiss dropped Michael Cuddyer -- 5-for-16 (.313) on a trip in which the Rockies have gone 1-3 -- from second to fifth. The Rockies went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position in Monday night's 9-0 loss to the Phillies.
DJ LeMahieu moved from eighth to second in the order.
"A lot of it depends on who's in the lineup and how it all works together," Weiss said. "I felt dropping 'Cuddy' into the middle of the order will hopefully get him some RBI situations. He's swinging the bat well, so we try to set the table up top."
With the Phillies starting lefty Cole Hamels, Weiss went with right-handed hitting Drew Stubbs leading off, LeMahieu second, Troy Tulowitzki third and Carlos Gonzalez cleanup. Gonzalez and Justin Morneau, who hit sixth, were the only left-handed hitters in the order.
Chatwood confident as he builds arm strength
PHILADELPHIA -- Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood threw at about 75 feet on Tuesday and felt on track in his recovery from a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm.
Chatwood has thrown four straight days and will take the next two days off. In addition, Chatwood is doing upper-body strengthening.
Although Chatwood is due to come off the 60-day disabled list on June 29, his return is unpredictable because it is not certain how the tendon -- which is near the elbow -- will respond when he begins competitive pitching.
"I think we've done everything we can," Chatwood said. "Going forward, if there is a setback, we've done everything within our control. I feel confident going forward."
Also, left-hander Brett Anderson, who sustained a broken left index finger on April 12, had the pins (which were inserted to aid in healing) removed on Tuesday. Anderson will undergo flexion and grip exercise before beginning a throwing program. Anderson eligible to come off the 60-day DL June 12, but his timetable has him returning possibly in early July.