Wheeler hoping to land permanent spot on roster
Versatile left-handed hitter impressing Rockies manager Weiss
MIAMI - Ryan Wheeler has proven that he can play at the Triple-A level, but he has not had too many opportunities to take the next step.
He's hoping that the clutch hit he delivered Friday night for the Rockies will help propel him to a permanent spot on the big league roster. Wheeler's two-out double that scored Michael Cuddyer lifted the Rockies to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory against the Marlins. It was Wheeler's first RBI for Colorado in his eighth game with the club.
"It felt good, especially [after] the previous two games we lost [in Philadelphia]," Wheeler said before Saturday's game. "It just felt good to be on the opposite side of a comeback win. And obviously to get a hit late in the game with a guy on third, that's the goal every day. It felt good just to help the team win. We've been kind of struggling lately."
Wheeler, who was with the D-backs last season before being acquired by the Rockies in the offseason, was having an outstanding season at Triple-A Colorado Springs before his most recent callup this week, the second time he's been promoted to fill a roster spot. The 24-year-old corner infielder's stats at Colorado Springs -- .308 BA, 10 HR, 81 RBIs, 29 doubles in 110 games -- earned him the callup.
"He's had a heck of a year in Triple-A," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Wheeler, who has had only 14 at-bats with the big club. "He hasn't had that many at-bats up here for us, but that was a huge hit [Friday night]. He's a good corner player. We can put him left field, third base, first base, and he can swing the bat."
Wheeler, who played at Triple-A Reno most of last season while in the Arizona organization, was not in the starting lineup Saturday, but he was available to pinch-hit.
"I'm confident that I'm on the radar here," he said. "It's just good opportunities haven't come [often], but they've given me opportunities when they do come."
Wheeler started at first base Friday to give Todd Helton a night off. Wheeler said he's trying to learn as much as possible by watching Helton in case the opportunity for him to play that position more often is on the horizon.
"I think Todd has earned the right to play as long as he wants to play, but if he does retire next year, I think it could be a great opportunity," Wheeler said. "I know there's some other good guys behind me right now in Double-A and Triple-A, and right now I'm fighting for that job. I'm fighting to stay on the team, so right now I just want to get the big hit every night, and I'm not worried about next year right now."