Rockies mindful of keeping backups active
SAN FRANCISCO -- One of Rockies manager Walt Weiss' challenges has been keeping right-handed-hitting outfielders Brandon Barnes and Drew Stubbs sharp, now that left-handed-hitting Charlie Blackmon has hit well enough to be the regular center fielder.
"It's a tough position to be in, as a player not getting consistent at-bats up here, but those guys are going to get hot at some point and they're going to have their opportunities, so I'm not too concerned about it," Weiss said.
Thus far, Barnes has functioned well as a part-time player, hitting .273 in 22 at-bats in 12 games. His successful hit-and-run at-bat against the Giants' Matt Cain helped set up the only run of Saturday's 1-0 victory. In parts of two seasons with the Astros, who sent him and pitcher Jordan Lyles to the Rockies for center fielder Dexter Fowler over the winter, Barnes was asked to execute many small-ball tasks that have come into play as a reserve.
Barnes and Stubbs both contributed as pinch-hitters during Sunday's eighth-inning, game-tying rally in an eventual 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Giants. Barnes executed a successful sacrifice bunt that set up Stubbs' RBI single to knot the score at 4.
Entering Sunday, Stubbs had hit .125 with five strikeouts in 16 at-bats over eight games. Generally, the starting center fielder has hit leadoff, but Stubbs is more of a down-in-the-order hitter. He also takes big swings and likely will have to execute the smaller tasks to improve his offensive functionality in a part-time role. He has all the defensive tools to be a standout defender, whether as a starter or a late-innings reserve.
"He brings some weapons, Stubbs does, with his speed and his ability to hit the ball out of the park," Weiss said. "He can help us in a number of ways. That's part of his game, the small ball -- he's working a lot on his bunting. We feel like we have some weapons with both of those guys."