Pat Valaika was caught in a numbers game at the end of spring training. He had an option remaining and Mark Reynolds did not.
The Rockies wanted to keep both players so Reynolds, who planned to retire if he didn't make the Rockies roster, remained with the team, and Valaika was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Valaika, however, never got to Albuqerque. The Isotopes' don't open the Triple-A season until Thursday. Instead, he was recalled by the Rockies on Monday to the opener against the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., after the Rockies officially placed first baseman Daniel Murphy on the disabled list retroactive to Saturday with an avulsion fracture of the left index finger.
Murphy, expected to be out at least four weeks, suffered the injury making a diving play in the fourth inning of Friday's second game of the season at Miami, but finished the game. A free-agent signed to a two-year, $24 million deal in the off-season to play first base, Murphy finished that game, feeling it was more a soreness he felt in his finger, but the pain the next morning prompted him to be examined, and doctors found the break.
Valaika, 26, appeared in 21 Spring games with the Rockies prior to being optioned on March 23. He hit .286 with two doubles, a triple, four home runs and 13 RBI.
He has played with the Rockies the past three seasons, including making the Opening Day roster a year ago, when he hit .156 with five doubles, two home runs, rive RBI, nine walks and 30 strikeouts in 68 games during four different stints with the big-league team.
Valaika, however, led MLB pinch-hitters in RBI (16), runs (12), doubles (eight) and extra-base hits (12), while tying for the MLB lead with four pinch-hit home runs in 2017. His 16 pinch-hit RBI were the most by a rookie since 1958 and his 12 extra-base hits as a pinch-hitter were tied for the most in Rockies history.
Since making his Major League debut with the Rockies in 2016, has batted .220 (71-for-323) with 39 runs, 17 doubles, 16 home runs, 47 RBI and 16 walks across 191 career games.
Murphy, 34, started at first base in the first two games of the season, going 1-for-10 with one run scored. He appeared in 91 games between Washington and Chicago-NL in 2018, batting .299 (98-for-328) with 15 doubles, 12 home runs and 42 RBI.
A three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger, Murphy has batted .299 (1422-for-4757) with 645 runs, 333 doubles, 28 triples, 122 home runs, 641 RBI, 325 walks and 67 stolen bases in 1282 career games across parts of 11 seasons with Mets (2008-15), Nationals (2016-18), Cubs (2018) and Rockies (2019).