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Inbox: How will Rox use McMahon this year?

Beat reporter Thomas Harding answers questions from fans
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

How do you see Ryan McMahon being utilized this season?
-- @moose_tography

McMahon had a steep learning curve early last year as a rookie but was a contributor as a left-handed bat off the bench during the second half. Part of the route to regular playing time is returning to the strong numbers against right-handers that he showed in the Minor Leagues.

How do you see Ryan McMahon being utilized this season?
-- @moose_tography

McMahon had a steep learning curve early last year as a rookie but was a contributor as a left-handed bat off the bench during the second half. Part of the route to regular playing time is returning to the strong numbers against right-handers that he showed in the Minor Leagues.

In 2017, McMahon hit righties at a .379 clip with 18 home runs in 133 Double-A and Triple-A games. But last season in the Majors, he actually hit lefties (.323/.447/.548 in 38 plate appearances) better than righties (.213/.274/.340 in 164 plate appearances).

McMahon will compete with right-handed hitters Garrett Hampson (No. 4 Rockies prospect, according to MLB Pipeline), Brendan Rodgers (No. 1 Rockies prospect, No. 10 overall) and Pat Valaika for playing time at second base. McMahon also can play first or third base when Daniel Murphy or Nolan Arenado need a day off.

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Tweet from @GotNugs: Arenado Arenado Arenado Arenado?But really, can we expect any offensive production out of the C spot in the lineup?

With Spring Training starting next week, it's more likely than not that the Rockies are sticking with Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters. Both are valued for their work with pitchers but have room for offensive improvement.

Iannetta said during last season he felt out of sync offensively, and he finished with a .224 batting average. He had solid production in the final month (.265/.438/.469 in 22 games) and ended up playing 99 games at catcher -- about what was planned when he signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract.

Wolters' season is best remembered for his 13th-inning RBI single that produced a 2-1 victory over the Cubs in the National League Wild Card Game, but he hit .170 in 74 regular-season games.

Video: NL WC: Wolters gives Rox lead with single in the 13th

Knowing that even modest offense could earn him more playing time, Wolters has spent the offseason addressing his approach and a swing that saw the bat pull out of the zone too quickly.

Last season, longtime prospect Tom Murphy ran into struggles offensively and defensively, but he still has a chance to have an impact.

Tweet from @KevvyGillikin: If the new "universal DH" rule was already in place, who would be the guy for the @Rockies? Would the NL players be upset about it?

The universal designated hitter is one of the reported back-and-forth proposals between MLB and the MLB Players Association, and none of the suggestions have been adopted.

With the Rockies likely to have a payroll around $140 million, I can't see a big expenditure. One idea would be creating a roster spot for Mark Reynolds or Michael Saunders, or maybe both. Another idea, should Murphy swing to his potential, would be to keep him as a third catcher and DH.

And I can't think of a reason National League players would be upset. It's an additional starting spot, another avenue to a greater salary, and NL teams would not be at a disadvantage in road Interleague and World Series games.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Ryan McMahon