SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- By joining the Rockies, left-handed-hitting Alexi Amarista can continue doing a little bit of everything for manager Bud Black.Amarista, 27, broke in with the Angels in 2011 but truly gained footing in 2012 after joining the Padres, then managed by Black, who was there through the first
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- By joining the Rockies, left-handed-hitting Alexi Amarista can continue doing a little bit of everything for manager Bud Black.
Amarista, 27, broke in with the Angels in 2011 but truly gained footing in 2012 after joining the Padres, then managed by Black, who was there through the first 65 games of 2015. With the Padres, Amarista played every position except first base and catcher, even ending up on the mound twice (although the first wasn't until June 17, 2015, the game after Black's departure).
• Spring Training:Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear
The two reunited this winter, when Amarista signed a one-year deal that guarantees $1.25 million with a 2018 club option.
Amarista is a middle infielder by trade who also has played third base, plus all three outfield spots. He has never caught fire offensively; he is a career .230 hitter with a .276 on-base percentage and .320 slugging percentage. But Black believes his glove alone makes him valuable to a club that usually carries an extra pitcher compared with most clubs.
"With 'Lexi,' the thing I feel most comfortable about is I don't think he will ever lose us a game in the field, no matter where you put him," Black said. "And that's comforting.
"As a backup player, there are roles you assign to these guys and how they help you win a game, or through a stretch of games or one particular game, for that matter. But his versatility defensively is big, especially when we keep 13 pitchers and you have a four-man bench."
Amarista said Black became a stabilizing and trusted mentor after he was dealt to the Padres.
"It feels really good to be here with new teammates and to be back with Bud Black and this organization," Amarista said. "I'm excited to be here, working hard, to see where they can use me. It's good to be here and get to work."
Amarista is part of a revamped bench. He brings more versatility and speed than last year's extras, primarily lefty-hitting Daniel Descalso and righty-hitting outfielder Ryan Raburn, but will have to improve with the bat to match them. His presence could affect switch-hitting infielder Cristhian Adames, who is out of Minor League options.
However, the possibility of non-roster invitees Mark Reynolds and/or Chris Denorfia making the club, along with either Gerardo Parra or David Dahl (whoever doesn't start in the outfield) could give the Rockies plenty of bench punch.
Still, Amarista would like to be more of an offensive threat. In nine winter seasons in Venezuela, Amarista, who is listed as 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, has hit .358 and has 25 home runs -- seven more than he has managed in his 606 Major League games.
"I want to just be more consistent and work harder with my at-bats and not try to hit it out, but put the ball in a position that's going to help the team," Amarista said.
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**.