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Arenado not going to rest on his laurels

After the sting of an early postseason exit, Rockies 3B sets '18 goals
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado skipped the team plane last fall and spent several depressive days in Phoenix after the Rockies' 11-8 loss to the D-backs in the 2017 National League Wild Card Game, filling his time with diversions, while longing for a baseball game that was not to come.

"I kind of hid a little bit," Arenado said to local media at Coors Field on Saturday, the final day of the Rockies Winter Caravan. "My mom and dad stayed with me a little bit. I think they were worried I was going to jump off a cliff, maybe. They wanted to check up on me a little bit. I want to thank them for staying with me, hanging out with me. They were hurting, too.

DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado skipped the team plane last fall and spent several depressive days in Phoenix after the Rockies' 11-8 loss to the D-backs in the 2017 National League Wild Card Game, filling his time with diversions, while longing for a baseball game that was not to come.

"I kind of hid a little bit," Arenado said to local media at Coors Field on Saturday, the final day of the Rockies Winter Caravan. "My mom and dad stayed with me a little bit. I think they were worried I was going to jump off a cliff, maybe. They wanted to check up on me a little bit. I want to thank them for staying with me, hanging out with me. They were hurting, too.

"It was just good to get away. I didn't want to fly home. I was kind of scared -- I didn't want people to see me here after we lost. ... Just to get away, I golfed. I went to a concert [Post Malone] -- by myself -- because nobody wanted to go with me. I actually enjoyed my down time. So when I got home I was ready to train and get back going."

The down time was sad, but it was short-lived. After winning his fifth straight Gold Glove Award, and every other significant defensive accolade at his position, and taking his third straight Silver Slugger Award, Arenado found himself in the weight room, on the field and in the batting cage quickly. He said a week hasn't passed that the loss to the D-backs -- in which he went 2-for-5 with a home run -- hasn't replayed itself in his mind. He isn't the only one. The game comes up in phone calls with teammates.

No wonder Arenado couldn't put his bat and glove away for long.

"I wanted to play more baseball," he said. "My cousin [Josh Fuentes, who put himself on the big league radar with a .307 performance at Double-A Hartford in the Rockies' organization] went to go play winter ball. And I was kind of jealous of him."

Pushing for more with the Rockies -- whose postseason appearance was their first since 2009 -- is motivation enough. Arenado doesn't have time to obsess about the recent Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now, which aired on MLB Network. "The Shredder," which makes judgments based on an alphabet soup of stats, rated the Cubs' Kris Bryant No. 1 and Arenado No 2. Fans, however, chose Arenado tops -- as did one of the panelists, former Major League third baseman Mike Lowell.

Video: Nolan Arenado is the No. 2 third baseman right now

"I appreciate the fans and the support, absolutely," Arenado said. "But there are a lot of great players out there and there are a lot of good third basemen. I remember when I got drafted, people were telling me that third base isn't really a position where it's really going off yet, like there's not that many. And now during my time in the big leagues a lot of [teams] have good third basemen.

"I can see why people pick other players. I can also see why other people pick me. It's all good. I don't take it personal. I just go play baseball."

Arenado enters 2018 with loftier goals than numbers or acclaim.

"As weird as it sounds, I would like to try to get to bed earlier," Arenado said. "That's something I'm trying to take pride in this next year. I find myself staying up a little later, my mind racing and thinking about the game. And then I find myself going to bed at like 2 or 3 [a.m.]. Little things like that, I feel can make an impact in the game. Trying to get to bed earlier, trying to take of my body, go get massages, take that more serious.

"Obviously, I want to be a better fielder, a better hitter, but that's baseball. I'll continue to work at that. But I think those are little mental things I'm trying to work on to help me excel at my game a little bit more."

If the Rockies succeed in the postseason, imagine how much better Arenado will sleep.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado