With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Rockies squad each day this week. Today's topic: How's Your Star?DENVER -- With a two-year, $29.5 million contract signed, Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado can concentrate on -- and prepare for --
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Rockies squad each day this week. Today's topic: How's Your Star?
DENVER -- With a two-year, $29.5 million contract signed, Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado can concentrate on -- and prepare for -- what's important.
Arenado, who turns 26 on April 16, has won the National League Gold Glove at his position four straight years to begin his career -- a streak bettered only by Ichiro Suzuki, who won 10 outfield Gold Gloves. Arenado has led the NL in RBIs and tied for the home run lead each of the last two years, and a third year would put him in an all-time category.
But Arenado can let that happen as it may and concentrate on other goals. He'll play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic during Spring Training. And who knows? That tournament may be preparation not only for the regular season, but for his and the Rockies' postseason dreams.
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"I've heard the atmosphere is pretty intense," said Arenado, whose contract is under club control for three years, since he is arbitration-eligible in 2019. "They're pretty crazy. I'm excited for that opportunity to play. It's only going to make me a better ballplayer. I've never been to the playoffs, so I can't really speak on it. But when you're representing your country it's a big thing, as close to the playoffs as you can get. It's going to help me in the long run."
The addition of Ian Desmond on a five-year, $70 million contract to play first base and a bullpen beefed up with the signings of former Royals closer Greg Holland and former Marlins lefty setup man Mike Dunn address issues. Arenado hopes those moves will add to a strong lineup and a promising starting pitching staff, and take the Rockies from six straight years as a sub-.500 also-ran to contender status in the NL West.
"Obviously, we're trying to win," Arenado said. "We're trying to get pieces to help us get to the next level. That's what's important."
Arenado said he is looking forward to working with Desmond, who played shortstop for seven seasons for the Nationals and spent last season playing the outfield for the Rangers. Having quality work at first base is important for Arenado, who attempts and completes plays many at his position can't, and needs the guy receiving his throws to be sure-handed.
"First base is not an easy position, but all I've heard about is Ian Desmond's work ethic," Arenado said. "I can only imagine he's going to become good at it, and he'll get better."
The goal from February to regular season's end is for Arenado and the Rockies to break the hold the Dodgers and Giants have had on the division in recent years.
"Obviously, it's not fun to see them win, but they're great organizations -- you can't knock them," Arenado said. "They know how to win. They know how to get the pieces to win. But there comes a point in time when you have to make steps the right way, and try to find ways to beat those guys. We're doing that."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.