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Arenado's maturity a major factor to his success

Time spent in Minors fuels Rockies' Gold Glove third baseman @TracyRingolsby

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Colorado Rockies gave Nolan Arenado a double dose of tough love. He never buckled.

Arenado made his point. He made it to the big leagues. And there's no indication he's ever going back to the Minors.

Enough was enough.

There was disappointment when Arenado wasn't called up after his season at Double-A Tulsa back in 2012, and again at the end of Spring Training last year when he was sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs instead of making the big league team's Opening Day roster.

"I was upset I didn't make the team [out of Spring Training a year ago]," Arenado said. "I felt I came in and did the things to make the team. But I understand the business side."

By delaying Arenado's big league debut four weeks, the Rockies delayed his potential free agency by a full season. They also reinforced their challenge to him to show more maturity.

Arenado didn't pout. He produced.

Four weeks into the 2013 season, Arenado was in the big leagues. And he did nothing but reinforce that he belonged in the big leagues the rest of the season.

Arenado hit .267 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs in 133 games, and he got better as the season went on, hitting .298 in the second half after the league had a chance to get a book on him.

He won the National League Gold Glove at third base, only the 10th rookie to win a Gold Glove, the second to win one at third base. And he even received support in the NL Rookie of the Year Award race, finishing tied for seventh.

Arenado showed a lot of maturity in a short amount of time.

"He learned to focus on what's in front of him, to just play the game and not worry about what might or might not happen," said Bill Geivett, the Rockies' senior vice president of Major League operations/assistant general manager.

There are things a person can control and some they can't. Arenado gets that. When people have doubts the best way to answer is to prove them wrong.

Nothing underscored that more than the Gold Glove.

Arenado got the rap in the Minor Leagues that he had eye-popping defensive abilities, but his focus would wander and the routine plays could be a challenge.

It was just something else for him to prove.

"I know my defense is as good as anyone out there," Arenado said. "I knew I was good and competitive on defense and offense."

Now everybody in baseball does. The fact that the Gold Glove, which is voted on by NL managers and coaches, now has a spot on his mantel is Arenado's answer.

"It's a great honor," he said. "I do think about it being special because of who votes on it. It's nice to be recognized by the managers and coaches."

And Arenado did it without a lengthy big league resume or having a lights-out offensive year. He did it by making big plays and opening eyes.

Newcomers don't usually get that much attention. The only other rookie third baseman to win the award was Frank Malzone of the Boston Red Sox in 1957, the first year the Gold Glove was awarded.

Four of the previous nine rookies were catchers -- Johnny Bench with Cincinnati in 1968, Carlton Fisk with Boston in '72, Sandy Alomar Jr., with Cleveland in '80 and Charles Johnson with Florida in '95. Three other rookie winners were outfielders -- Tommy Agee of the Chicago White Sox in 1966, Fred Lynn of Boston in '75 and Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle in 2001.

The only rookie infielder, other than Malzone and Arenado, to be awarded a Gold Glove was second baseman Ken Hubbs of the Chicago Cubs in 1962.

Erratic in the Minors, Arenado was considered the best at his position in the NL in his rookie season.

What gives?

"It helps a lot [being in the big leagues]," Arenado said. "I have [shortstop Troy Tulowitzki] and Stu [Cole, third-base coach] helping me with where to play, and it helps to play on a big league field."

The downer for Arenado was that Colorado finished last in the NL West for the second season in a row last year.

"It's hard for things to stick out when you are in last place," said Arenado. "I mean, there are good things that happen, but not for the team. And ultimately it's about what the team does, not what you do."

One of the best things to happen for the Rockies was the arrival of Arenado, whose maturity has caught up with his ability.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for

Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado