On second thought, McMahon heads back to third

April 18th, 2023

DENVER -- on Tuesday returned to third base, where he has been a finalist for Gold Glove Awards the past two years. The move represents manager Bud Black’s plan to “readdress” the position.

Second-year player Elehuris Montero has struggled defensively. His second-inning error Monday opened the door for a six-run inning that greased the Rockies’ path to a 14-3 loss to the Pirates at Coors Field. Montero has shown potential with the bat, and his .289/.333/.422 slash line puts him slightly above MLB average, although he has 16 strikeouts in 45 at-bats.

But with a ground ball-oriented pitching staff that needs solid infield defense, the Rockies are going back to McMahon at the hot corner. Alan Trejo started at second on Tuesday.

“We’re going to take a step back and take a look at our situation at third, for sure,” Black said. “It’s been a tough go for ‘Monty’ in the early going here. We’re going to readdress our defense as we move forward.”

The move indicated the Rockies are considering optioning Montero to Triple-A Albuquerque. Black did not say such a move will happen, but acknowledged “developing at the Major League level is difficult sometimes.”

The Rockies also have tried Montero at first base, both at Albuquerque and in the Majors. If his bat continues to develop, he could work into a designated hitter rotation.

Going into 2023, the Rockies considered having Montero begin the season at Albuquerque. But when 2022 Gold Glove Award winner Brendan Rodgers sustained a left shoulder injury -- one that could cost him the entire season -- McMahon moved to second, a position he has played well in the past.

“It’s just showing a lot of flexibility,” McMahon said. “It’s definitely easier going back to third. There’s so much more to do at second, plus at third I worked there the whole offseason.”