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Rox recall prospect McMahon to play second

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- The Rockies will see if Ryan McMahon, the club's second-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, has found the swing that wasn't present when he began the season in the Majors.

The Rockies recalled McMahon, the No. 37-ranked prospect in all of baseball, from Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday and started him at second base against the Reds at Coors Field. McMahon made the Opening Day roster but struggled in 28 games -- .180/.317/.200 with a double and three RBIs in 60 plate appearances -- before being optioned May 1.

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DENVER -- The Rockies will see if Ryan McMahon, the club's second-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, has found the swing that wasn't present when he began the season in the Majors.

The Rockies recalled McMahon, the No. 37-ranked prospect in all of baseball, from Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday and started him at second base against the Reds at Coors Field. McMahon made the Opening Day roster but struggled in 28 games -- .180/.317/.200 with a double and three RBIs in 60 plate appearances -- before being optioned May 1.

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The Rockies hope McMahon, 23, has learned to adapt his swing and can offer immediate help at second base. Since DJ LeMahieu suffered a left thumb injury on May 13, Pat Valaika -- who was optioned Saturday to clear active-roster room for McMahon -- and Daniel Castro are a combined 6-for-38 (.158) with two doubles, a homer, two runs scored and a .200 on-base percentage.

McMahon hit .253 with three home runs, five doubles, one triple and 16 RBIs in 22 games after being optioned. More importantly, he has hit .333 (8-for-24) with hits in five of last his six games before being recalled, although he struck out nine times.

Rockies manager Bud Black said Albuquerque manager Glenallen Hill and hitting coach Tim Doherty reported that McMahon's swing has improved. The Rockies didn't ask McMahon to radically change his swing, but just to work on ways to improve it for when he would face Major League pitchers.

"He's confident in his swing, but I do think moving forward, like all hitters, there are constantly some adjustments," Black said. "And Mac will go through those like all hitters do."

Video: CHC@COL: McMahon makes a smooth backhanded play

Last season at Double-A Hartford and Albuquerque, McMahon hit .355/.403/.538, with 20 home runs and 88 RBIs, then went 3-for-19 sprinkled over 17 Major League games. He made this year's Opening Day roster by hitting .319 in 30 Spring Training games and was in line for playing time at first base, but his early-season struggles hurt his chances for playing time even though Ian Desmond and Valaika -- the other first-base options -- were struggling.

"It just really reinforced that you need to be at your best to compete with these guys every day," McMahon said. "It [the time in Albuquerque] was just getting back to that and staying in it.

"Honestly, it took a little bit. I was pressing. I was like, 'Let's do this thing. Let's get it going.' As soon as I relaxed, went out there and trusted what I was going to do, it started clicking again."

McMahon can play second in LeMahieu's absence and could be used to spell Desmond at first base when LeMahieu returns.

Valaika was recalled May 14 after LeMahieu was injured, and hit .120 with four doubles and an RBI in 37 games (16 starts) over two stints in the Majors this season.

Another step for LeMahieu

LeMahieu hit in the batting cage and briefly during batting practice -- the next step in working his way back into the lineup. Black said there is no timetable, and it's not certain if he will need a Minor League rehab assignment.

Fuentes found himself in Denver

Before left-handed pitcher Brian Fuentes converted a club-record 115 saves for the Rockies from 2002-08, he was an aspiring starter with the Mariners. He broke in with 10 appearances for Seattle in 2001 but considered himself a starter before being dealt to the Rockies, with fellow pitchers Denny Stark and Jose Paniagua for third baseman Jeff Cirillo. But Fuentes found a home in the Rockies' bullpen.

Fuentes, in Denver as part of AT&T SportsNet's celebration of the top players in club history, said he didn't realize how accomplished his career was while he was living it.

"As time went on, I'd see something and say, 'Apparently, I did this and did that,' and you start realizing that it was pretty special, especially as you watch the game as a fan," said Fuentes, 42, who made 650 total appearances over 12 seasons with six teams. "As a player, it's a business and I'm always calculating. How am I going to do this or get this guy out? Once I got out of it, I didn't care about pitch sequences. I watched to see somebody hit a 450-foot bomb or strike out the side in nine pitches.

"Then you realize, wow, this game is pretty hard and to do what I did for a long time is pretty special."

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

Colorado Rockies, Ryan McMahon