MIAMI -- Outfielder Brandon Barnes didn't simply accept that his roster spot was a casualty of circumstances when the Rockies optioned him to Triple-A Albuquerque on April 29.Center fielder Charlie Blackmon's return from the 15-day disabled list, added to the need for the Rockies to protect their pitching numbers and
MIAMI -- Outfielder Brandon Barnes didn't simply accept that his roster spot was a casualty of circumstances when the Rockies optioned him to Triple-A Albuquerque on April 29.
Center fielder Charlie Blackmon's return from the 15-day disabled list, added to the need for the Rockies to protect their pitching numbers and the fact Barnes had Minor League options meant he had to go. But Barnes went about trying to make himself less dispensable.
Barnes used the regular playing time to hit .277 with a .333 on-base percentage, adding to his small-ball game with eight stolen bases in 12 tries over 34 Triple-A games. He was the logical choice to recall on Friday, when the Rockies placed outfielder Gerardo Parra on the 15-day disabled list with a high left ankle sprain.
"I went from being that fifth guy [in the Major League outfield] to getting consistent at-bats," Barnes said. "I worked on getting consistent with my swing but also worked on stealing bases -- my leads, making sure I'm picking things up from the pitchers and making sure I get my bunts down.
"I definitely want to implement those things as much as I can."
Rockies first-base coach Eric Young said Barnes can be a greater factor if he's able to incorporate the speed game with his pinch-hitting. Young and hitting coach Blake Doyle wanted him to become more of a speed threat.
"Pinch-hitting is one of the toughest jobs in the game," Young said. "Everybody expects you to get a hit. But he has to think, 'What do I need to do to help the team win a game? And let me do it. Do I need to get on base, or do I need to get a home run?'
"More times than not, if he's on base, good things can happen."
Manager Walt Weiss said on Friday -- and at the time Barnes was sent down -- that he "is a Major League player," but Barnes' push to come back a better player rather than just punch the clock and wait for a phone call speaks volumes.
"It's always the message when a guy gets sent down," Weiss said. "Sometimes it's hard to hear that message at that time. That's exactly what 'Barnsie' did. He went down there and was working on his game."
Royalty, nonetheless: Putting aside the odd argument about whether the Marlins' Ichiro Suzuki deserves to be called the Hit King because his combined Japanese and MLB hits are more than Pete Rose's 4,256, Weiss said Ichiro arriving in the Majors at 27 and fast approaching 3,000 Major League hits is a feat in its own right.
"It's absolutely amazing what Ichiro has done, the number of hits he's compiled in, relatively, that short a time," Weiss said. "It's like he's got a magic wand. He made a huge impact on this game when he got over here and took the game by storm. It's an amazing career he's had."
Also in the Marlins' dugout is hitting coach Barry Bonds, whom Weiss called "the greatest hitter I ever saw -- it's hard to even think of anybody a close second."
McGee progressing slowly: Lefty closer Jake McGee, out with left knee inflammation, played long-toss at 110 feet on Friday, but Weiss said the Rockies are taking their time with his comeback.
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**.