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Descalso, Ynoa bring experience to SS battle

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Playing multiple positions in the Majors is a nice life. Rockies utility man Daniel Descalso has a World Series ring from his days with the Cardinals doing it, and he's in the second year of a two-year, $3.6 million deal.

But even someone as appreciative for what he has as the left-handed-hitting Descalso, 29, doesn't mind wanting to be counted when a position as prime as shortstop comes open. It's the same with switch-hitting third-year utility man Rafael Ynoa.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Playing multiple positions in the Majors is a nice life. Rockies utility man Daniel Descalso has a World Series ring from his days with the Cardinals doing it, and he's in the second year of a two-year, $3.6 million deal.

But even someone as appreciative for what he has as the left-handed-hitting Descalso, 29, doesn't mind wanting to be counted when a position as prime as shortstop comes open. It's the same with switch-hitting third-year utility man Rafael Ynoa.

They are competing with a pair of prospects -- 2011 first-round pick Trevor Story and 2014 Triple-A All-Star Cristhian Adames -- for the job that's currently vacant as Jose Reyes faces a domestic violence charge in a Hawaii court and a possible suspension from MLB. Reyes is on paid leave from Spring Training, which allows the Rockies to have open competition without distraction as position players begin workouts Friday.

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Descalso appeared in 33 games at short last year and has by far the most experience of the competitors. He also played 15 games at second base, five at third and one in the outfield.

"We all strive to be everyday players," Descalso said. "With the uncertainty of shortstop, knowing that Jose is not going to be here for a while, I look at it as an opportunity. It's not that I've heard that from anybody's mouth, but for me to prepare for the season, I was preparing for the chance that this might happen. I'm just trying to earn some playing time."

• Rockies' shortop competition: Story | Adames

Ynoa, 28, a longtime Dodgers farmhand who broke through with the Rockies in late 2014, was a shortstop until the Rockies turned him into a utility man. Last year, he received 19 games in left field, but also 10 at third base, eight at short and five at second.

Video: COL@ARI: Ynoa gives Rockies the lead with RBI double

Ynoa uses winter ball in the Dominican Republic to prepare for multi-position work, but he said he reserves two games a week at short just in case an opening arises.

"My first experience as a utility man was when I got to the Rockies," Ynoa said. "The Dodgers signed me as a shortstop, so if that spot is open, it's a chance for my career, for me and my family. I'll do my best and show them I can play there and everywhere."

Last season, Descalso received greater playing time (101 games and 209 plate appearances) than Ynoa (72 and 131), but Ynoa had the stronger offensive year -- .260, .277 on-base percentage and .339 slugging, versus Descalso's .205/.283/.324.

Video: COL@SD: Descalso cranks a go-ahead homer in the 8th

Descalso said, "I just focused [this offseason] on a better sense of rhythm and timing. Sometimes as a guy who doesn't get everyday at-bats, it's hard to find that timing and hold onto it."

Ynoa left 2015 with confidence, even though he was occasionally sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque when the Rockies were in a roster crunch.

"I know the player I am and my abilities," he said. "If I get more opportunity, more at-bats, I can do my best."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to Podcasts and like his Facebook page.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Colorado Rockies, Daniel Descalso, Rafael Ynoa