Arenado not fazed by first opener, impending stardom
MIAMI -- Most believe Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is going to need to build a big trophy case.
Arenado will receive the 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award -- the first for a National League rookie third baseman -- at the Rockies' home opener on Friday. But many folks who forecast these situations see him as a future star, and even manager Walt Weiss -- not given to superlatives -- predicted "multiple All-Star Games" in Arenado's career. The third baseman hit .267 last year, but that was with almost no knowledge of the league's pitchers.
Yet Arenado, who turns 23 on April 16, hasn't shown any weight of the expectations. He was even non-plussed by the prospect of his first Opening Day in the Majors. He didn't debut until the end of April last year.
"Honestly, it kind of feels like a continuation of what went on last year," Arenado said. "I'm just here to start the season with these guys. I played with a lot of them last year, so it kind of feels pretty normal. It doesn't feel like it's new, even though it is new."
Being from the Colorado market shields Arenado from some of the hype that would go with coming off a strong rookie year. He's from the Los Angeles area, which has so many celebrities that Arenado really isn't one outside of where he grew up in Lake Forest, Calif. But if he continues the way the Rockies believe -- and a .357 spring with six doubles, three triples and three home runs in 21 games could be an indication -- notice could be coming his way.
"That's out of my control," he said. "I can't worry about that stuff. As long as I'm out there playing and doing my job, all that stuff that hopefully will happen in the future will happen when the time is right. Right now, my focus is playing hard and helping the team win."
Weiss is confident Arenado has the right attitude for stardom.
"He's a baseball player in the truest sense," Weiss said. "He loves to play, loves to practice. He has high expectations for himself. He's always hit. He's going to hit up here. He's going to be productive up here, and we've already seen his defense. He's a star in the making."
Keeping things in stride is a literal goal of Arenado.
"I would say I didn't find a routine it last year," he said. "I would say I may have found it in the offseason, trying to get it together and figure things out. I definitely built on it in the offseason and carried it into Spring Training. It's making sure I do it every day.
"It's not so much one specific thing, just what I need to do every day. We're not talking superstition. We're talking actual routine. I don't have too many superstitions. Sometimes those creep in, but I try to stay away from those."
The Rockies believe he can avoid the pitfalls that come with stardom, as well.