DENVER -- The unusual and spectacular has a way of becoming almost routine for Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. So when Tuesday night's 4-2 victory over the Angels ended with Arenado -- not a middle infielder, but playing the shortstop area in shifted alignment -- making a not-too-easy pivot for
DENVER -- The unusual and spectacular has a way of becoming almost routine for Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. So when Tuesday night's 4-2 victory over the Angels ended with Arenado -- not a middle infielder, but playing the shortstop area in shifted alignment -- making a not-too-easy pivot for a double play behind Wade Davis, it was as if that was expected.
And maybe it is.
Arenado's quick footwork -- after receiving second baseman DJ LeMahieu's flip to set up the throw to retire the Angels' Kole Calhoun at first base -- was his second game-ending double-play relay this season. And arguably it was his second best.
On April 24, Arenado took shortstop Trevor Story's toss from behind the second base bag, made an inside spin and completed the double play that ended an 8-0 victory.
Usually, teams move the third baseman to the right side in shifts, since those players generally lack the range to play the left side alone. The Rockies don't have to because Arenado can cover more ground than a normal third baseman.
"Obviously, it's been an outstanding way to win ballgames," Arenado said. "I was ready to do it. I wanted to do it. Credit goes to Wade for getting the ground ball and DJ giving me a good toss."
The unusual play can be risky if botched. Either the left fielder would have to rush in or the pitcher would have to be alert to back up the bag, or cover third.
Manager Bud Black figures Arenado can simply flash back to the old days at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif. So he trusts his five-time Gold Glove-winning third baseman to make such a play with the game on the line.
"I think he played some high school shortstop, like all these guys have," Black said, smiling. "They're baseball players."
Arenado said he's feeling more at home when the team implements a shift.
"Obviously, I don't think I can play short at this level," Arenado said. "Maybe if you gave me a few games in Spring Training or in the Minors, I can get it done. But the shift has helped me. We've shifted so much that I feel I play short a lot of the time."
Pumped for old teammate
Rockies lefty reliever Chris Rusin said he was unaware that Mariners righty James Paxton, his teammate at the University of Kentucky, had thrown a no-hitter Tuesday night until Rockies teammate Adam Ottavino informed him in the bullpen.
Rusin, who played with Paxton at Kentucky from 2007-09, knew how much the performance meant to Paxton, who is from Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Tuesday's gem was in Toronto.
"It was very cool for him to do it in Canada," Rusin said. "Being a college teammate, seeing his progress throughout the years -- injuries, healthy -- it's good to see that he's healthy and feeling good right now. He had 16 strikeouts the game before, a no-hitter now. If he says healthy, that's the type of pitching you're going to get."
Rusin said he felt "live" excitement when watching the highlights.
"He was challenging the guys in the ninth inning with his fastball," Rusin said. "You usually don't see guys doing that with a no-hitter. They're trying to be careful, get weak contact. As a pitcher, watching the highlights, it kind of gets you pumped and gives you the chills."
The Rockies are keeping their eye on three pitching injuries:
• Righty reliever Carlos Estevez, who began the year on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain but was moved to the 60-day DL with a right elbow strain while at Triple-A Albuquerque, has not begun throwing but is performing strengthening exercises. Estevez last pitched on April 15.
• Lefty reliever Zachary Rosscup has begun playing catch after discomfort in his middle finger has kept him out since late in Spring Training. The return has been slow because the Rockies don't want the issue to create potentially dangerous changes in motion.
• Righty Yency Almonte, 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA in four starts at Triple-A Albuquerque, went to the Minor League seven-day DL for the second time this season, this time with soreness at the top of his right biceps. Zach Wilson, the Rockies' senior player development director, said the move was to have him skip a start and heal. Almonte had a nerve issue in his elbow earlier this season, but that has healed.
Honorary bat girl
MLB announced Wednesday that Rochelle McKenzie is the Rockies' Honorary Bat Girl, as part of the Going to Bat Against Cancer initiative, traditionally commemorated on Mother's Day. For the first year, clubs hand-selected their respective honorees for their commitment to battling breast cancer.
McKenzie recently was honored by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, WWE and ambassador Dana Warrior as a survivor on a recent "Smackdown" episode. McKenzie took the honorary WWE belt to the Rocky Mountain Cancer Clinic that day to thank her oncologist Dr. Ma and to encourage other patients. She also has been raising money for that and other causes, such as the relief effort for Puerto Rico as it recovers from Hurricane Maria.
Louisville Slugger will donate proceeds from the sale of their pink bats, which will be stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo, to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer. Additionally, MLB will again donate its licensed uniform royalties through Mother's Day apparel to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.