LeMahieu goes from throw-in to All-Star
Slick-fielding second baseman thrilled to join Tulo, Arenado
CINCINNATI -- Rockies All-Star second baseman DJ LeMahieu was the afterthought, and he hasn't forgotten.
He was, so it seemed, the throw-in with outfielder Tyler Colvin, who the Cubs shipped to the Rockies prior to the 2012 season for Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart and pitcher Casey Weathers.
"It still drives me," LeMahieu said. "I had the feeling when I was traded that was how the rest of the league looked at me. I was the throw-in."
Now look at him. Colvin, who hit 18 home runs in 2012 while LeMahieu was spending the bulk of the summer at Triple-A Colorado Springs, has since been let go by the Rockies, the Giants and the Marlins, and his currently hitting .243 with the White Sox Triple-A Charlotte affiliate.
Want to see him? Tune in the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile on Tuesday night. He will be at Great American Ball Park, playing second base and hitting ninth in the National League lineup, starting in place of the injured Dee Gordon of the Marlins. LeMahieu is joined in the Queen City by Rockies teammates Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado, both added to the NL roster as reserves.
Given the chance to play on a regular basis in the big leagues, as low-key as LeMahieu may be, he has made a strong impression. NL coaches and managers named him the Gold Glove winner at second base last year. This year, he was voted onto the All-Star team in the players' vote.
"DJ is the most under-the-radar-type guy, but he is a great player," said Arenado. "He is not flashy, but when you watch him, he plays the game hard every day, and he makes the big plays. He just does it so calmly."
The big thing for LeMahieu was getting the chance. A shortstop out of LSU, he was bounced around the infield in pro ball. The Rockies finally ignored concerns about the 6-foot-4 LeMahieu being too big to play second, and he took over that position on a full-time basis in 2014 without any indication of giving it up.
"DJ is the steady Eddie," said Tulowitzki. "What's an honor for him is the players' vote. It shows they know what he is doing and how solid he is."
For Tulowitzki, the fact he is in Cincinnati along with Arenado and LeMahieu, both making their first appearances in the game, adds to the significance of this All-Star appearance, Tulowitzki's fifth.
"Having those guys next to me is special in itself," said Tulowitzki. "I put in so much work helping them with their careers."
But then, admitted Tulowitzki, each All-Star selection is special.
"This never gets old, even if it is at the last minute," he said. "This is that special moment in a season. The game is too hard to ever act like being an All-Star isn't significant."
The three Rockies infielders all have Gold Glove potential, and each has been among the game's better offensive players this year.
Tulowitzki, hitting .313, carried an active streak of reaching base in 38 consecutive games into the All-Star break, having hit .354 in that streak, best among NL hitters. Arenado is hitting .293 with 24 homers and shares the Major League RBI lead of 70 with Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona.
"It's fun to be here and be able to share this with Tulo and DJ," said Arenado.
It's nice for LeMahieu to even hear his name mentioned in the same breath at Tulowitzki.
During the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati on Tuesday, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
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