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For Rockies, developing versatility key part of approach

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In the Rockies' world, a player may need to move around to move up.

Rockies shortstop prospect Trevor Story started Tuesday's intrasquad game at second base, and later moved to third. Switch-hitting prospect Rosell Herrera has played 438 Minor League games, with all his defensive appearances at shortstop or third base. But he started in center field Tuesday. Story split last season between Class A Modesto and Double-A Tulsa, and Herrera spent the year at Modesto. But by increasing versatility, both could make themselves Major League options by year's end.

Part of the requirement of versatility is because Troy Tulowitzki is the Rockies' shortstop. If he stays healthy, that job isn't available. But also, anyone with big league aspirations should be versatile.

The Rockies usually carry 13 pitchers, while most teams tend to go with 12. That means fewer players on the Rockies' bench, so the more versatile a player, the better.

It's why first baseman Ben Paulsen is learning the outfield and Kyle Parker's assignment is vice-versa. It's why Wilin Rosario is learning first base to assure himself playing time. Catching prospects Ryan Casteel and Dustin Garneau have played some first base. Catcher Tommy Murphy hasn't added another position yet, but that's because he missed much of last season with a right shoulder injury.

Jeff Bridich asked players to increase their versatility when he served as player development director before becoming general manger this past offseason. Players aren't asked to move around when they join the Rockies' system, but roster needs usually mean players identified as prospects are encouraged to be flexible.

Video: Bridich on work at Spring Training, position battles

"It started primarily with some of our offensive-type catchers, Casteel, Murphy, when we had Jose Bercino [now with the Braves], trying to increase their offensive versatility and increase the production of their bats," Bridich said. "As a National League team, it makes a lot of sense. It's grown from there.

"It's not so much a blanket policy with all our players. But we're looking for specific players that have the athleticism and ability. You have to know the player, learn the player, and know where they are and how comfortable they are moving around."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at
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