LeMahieu made speed a focus during offseason

Gold Glove winner hopes to be more of a menace on base in 2015

LeMahieu made speed a focus during offseason

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu's offseason work on his speed already is showing dividends.

"We were doing sprints early in the offseason and by February I was much, much faster," LeMahieu said. "We'll see how that translates, but I accomplished my goal."

LeMahieu raced Rockies leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon, who led the team with 28 steals in 2014, and "he [Blackmon] got me by a tick."

By working on speed, LeMahieu honed a skill that fit his game, which is playing the situations, moving runners and taking opportunities on the bases. Will it translate into production?

In 2013, when LeMahieu emerged as a starter for the first time, he hit .280 with 21 doubles. Last year he seemed headed for a better year before falling into a summer slump (.158 from late July 28 through Aug. 31) and finished the year at .267 with 15 doubles. More consistency, and more speed that could turn singles into doubles, could make LeMahieu -- who won his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award last year -- an underrated weapon. LeMahieu has the bat-handling skills to hit second, but he has functioned better hitting eighth.

"He's a guy that's going to get better and better offensively," manager Walt Weiss said. "I've talked about his feel for the game and that's going to play into his offense. You're going to see his on-base [.314 career] creep up. He's going to slug more than he has [.361 career] -- not homers, but there are doubles there."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.