TEMPE, Ariz. -- With a week remaining in spring training, Rockies manager Bud Black decided to juggle the lineup Tuesday, and moved Nolan Arenado back into the No. 3 slot, where he has hit primarily the last few years. It was the first time this spring he did not hit second.
Nothing, Black said, is permanent.
“It’s part of looking at all our options moving forward,” Black said. “I think you can see Nolan at any time in the two-hole, three-hole, four-hole, based on what you’ve seen the last couple years. I wouldn’t read anything into it, except Nolan hopefully hits in the first inning once the season starts. You know what that means, that we didn’t go 1-2-3.”
Through his career, he has primarily hit third or fourth. All 144 starts last year came in either the three (125 games) or four (29 games) slots, and in his career he has hit third in 405 games and fourth in 219 games. He, in fact, has hit second only 23 times, which ranks behind fifth (87), sixth (60) and seventh (63) as well as third and fourth.
What the numbers show, however, is that when he hits second, third, fourth or fifth, his average ranges from .292 to .294, and his slugging percentage is .567 hitting second, .578 hitting third and .549 hitting fourth over his career, which underscores the consistency of his at-bats regardless of the lineup spot.
Arenado has been careful to publicly endorse the idea of moving around in the lineup, but does admit when pressed, “three or four is where I’m at -- that’s who I am. I like hitting with guys on base. That’s what I do. I’ve done that the last four or five years now. That’s where I feel the most comfortable."
He, however, adds, if hitting second will produce more wins for the team, he is ready for that adjustment.
What Black would like to do is alternate the lineup with left/right/left/right through the No. 8 hole on days that Ryan McMahon is the second baseman, but if he hits Arenado third, most likely the Rockies will have left-handed hitters Charlie Blackmon and Daniel Murphy hitting 1-2. That was the alignment on Tuesday when Murphy homered in the first inning to ignite a three-run rally, in which Arenado followed with a double and eventually scored.
-- The big first inning, coupled with Tony Wolters' first home run of the spring in the second, gave German Marquez an early 4-0 lead against the Angels. It wasn't enough. Marquez struggled keeping his fastball down and was ineffective with his curveball in what became an a 9-7 loss to the Angels.
-- Marquez worked 4 1/3 innings, giving up eight runs on 10 hits and two walks.
"It was one of those nights where I was not on," he said. "I kept competing and hoping for the best. The fastball was up. I didn't have an off-speed much. That happens."
That, however, is an area that has been a problem in the past for Marquez, who dominates most of the time, but then slips into games like the one against the Angels.
"His velocity is so good that in the top of the zone it works, but if he is down a little, belt high, thigh high, that's a pitch any hitter can hit," said Black.
Black said in Thursday's bullpen session Marquez has to continue to work on a consistent release point, "and mentally has to tell himself to get the ball down. The mind can help you do a lot of things."
-- Bryan Shaw added a fifth consecutive scoreless appearance in his effort against the Angels, another statement of him being back to his old self, and ridding the nightmarish thoughts of his Rockies debut in 2018. "The ball is coming out better, crisper, and located better," said Black. "The ball/strike ratio is improving. That's a good trend."
-- The Rockies are back under the lights on Wednesday. They host the Royals at Salt River Fields with a 7:40 p.m., MDT first pitch. Lefty Tyler Anderson will get the start.