Baker feeling at home at third base
Rockies utility man gets time at spot he manned in Minors
DENVER -- Jeff Baker has struggled to find an offensive rhythm for more than a month. But thanks to Rockies manager Clint Hurdle's recent lineup decisions, he is at least in his element defensively.
Partly because of matchups, and partly because of the need to keep reserves fresh, Baker has started two of the last three games at third base. Baker has played mostly second base this year, with some first base mixed in, and he was played mostly first base and outfield last year. But third was the position he played through the Minors with the Rockies.
Baker made several above-average defensive plays in Monday's 4-0 victory over the Giants -- "played his backside off," Hurdle said. It earned him another chance to flash his glove at his best position Wednesday, with ground-ball pitcher Aaron Cook on the mound.
"I feel really comfortable at second now, too, but third I feel comfortable at just because I've had so many reps, and it's where I've seen the ball come off the bat the most," Baker said. "At second, I kind of made myself get comfortable. But at third is where I really have a comfort level."
Baker was hitting .285 through Aug. 1, but a slump and on-and-off playing time contributed to a slump that dropped his average to .257 entering Wednesday. The Rockies had hoped starting him against Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez would help, but Baker went 0-for-3 and Sanchez held the Rockies to three runs through seven innings.
"He's a good pitcher, and I don't think he gets a lot of respect and credit he deserves," said Baker, who was seeking instead to have success against Giants lefty Barry Zito on Wednesday. "Hitting's about rhythm and timing. As a bench guy, you just try to find a way to get rhythm and timing."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.