CHICAGO -- Infielder Daniel Castro trusted the advice from Triple-A Albuquerque hitting coach Darin Everson, even if it meant he had to wait. But the advice paid off when the Rockies called up Castro on Tuesday for his first Major League action since 2016.
Castro, 25, left Albuquerque with a 22-game hit streak and offensive confidence -- big for him considering he slashed .217/.250/.265 with two home runs, 12 RBIs and a stolen base in 80 games for the Braves from 2015-16.
Everson convinced Castro to eliminate a leg kick, and last year he went .306/.344/.397 at Albuquerque but was not promoted. Castro became a Minor League free agent last offseason but re-signed with the Rockies, believing he had a chance.
After making a strong bid in Spring Training to make the team, Castro batted .407/.429/.516 with 11 RBIs, eight doubles, a triple, five walks and 17 runs scored in 23 games for Albuquerque.
"The biggest thing has been the consistency, the way I'm moving my body," Castro said through interpreter and first-base coach Tony Diaz. "I'm able to recognize the pitches much better. For me, that's been the biggest difference."
Castro's ability to play second base, third base and shortstop made him the Rockies' callup choice, with DJ LeMahieu on the 10-day disabled list until at least next Tuesday for a right hamstring strain. Castro started at second base Tuesday night against the Cubs.
"He was swinging the bat real well down in Albuquerque, off to a great start. He's a steady defender, knows how to play the game," said Rockies manager Bud Black, who hopes Castro helps the bottom of the lineup, which has struggled. "He can bunt. He can hit-and-run. He's a guy that goes about it the right way."
McMahon gets a reset
To bring up Castro, the Rockies optioned first baseman-infielder Ryan McMahon to Albuquerque. McMahon, 23, is the Rockies' No. 2 prospect and the No. 39 prospect in the Majors, according to MLB Pipeline. But McMahon struggled with on-and-off playing time, and hit .180/.317/.200 with three RBIs and 22 strikeouts.
The move will give McMahon regular playing time, and Black said he expects McMahon to return as a contributor.
"There's no doubt what he was doing here -- in and out of the lineups and pinch-hits, some consecutive starts -- he didn't get into the rhythm of the season, like a lot of guys at the start of the year," Black said. "This is the first year that he broke with the big league team. He might have been putting a little extra pressure on himself to perform. This was a move to let him exhale a little bit and go back to being Ryan McMahon."
The Rockies took a chance on young players in part-time roles to open the season. Now two of them -- Mike Tauchman, who was 1-for-23 (.043) when optioned on April 22, and McMahon -- have been sent down.
Rusin nearing return
Lefty Chris Rusin, who can return from an intercostal injury on Friday for the Rockies' series against the Mets, faced hitters at Wrigley Field for about 25 pitches.
A proponent of the quick-pitch, Rusin said he believes the injury occurred during the sudden startup of such a move. So he mixed quick pitches with his regular delivery and came through healthy, working his timing toward game sharpness.
Outfielder David Dahl, who entered Tuesday night 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts and no walks against left-handers, homered on Rusin's first pitch -- a changeup.
Rockies outfielder joins ex-Rockies outfielder
Center fielder Charlie Blackmon told MLB Network Radio on Tuesday that he is taking the team's slow offensive start -- a .224 batting average through April -- in stride. He was interviewed by Casey Stern and a man with a wealth of experience -- former Rockies outfielder Matthew Holliday.
Blackmon entered with nine homers, eight of them on the road. Holliday noted, "The weather warms up, Coors Field will be better. It's been pretty cold, pretty chilly home games."
Blackmon said, "We've been battling snow, rain ... I just have a feeling as the summer goes on, it heats up, it's going to turn on a little bit at Coors Field.