Rosario shows athleticism in work at first base

Rosario shows athleticism in work at first base

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Playing first base under game conditions went fine for the Rockies' Wilin Rosario on Tuesday.

Rosario, a catcher who could increase his playing time by being adequate at first base, made two error-saving plays in one inning. On a pickoff move from pitcher John Lannan, Rosario leaped over baserunner Matt McBride to keep the ball from sailing into foul ground. He also made a nice pickup of a pickoff attempt from catcher Michael McKenry.

The Rockies signed Nick Hundley for two years and $6.25 million and figure to make him their primary catcher. Rosario will make some starts at catcher because he hits left-handed pitching better than Hundley. But both can be in the lineup if Rosario can play first base and spell left-handed-hitting veteran Justin Morneau.

Rosario has made nine career appearances at first, including seven starts, but he needs to be more than a last-option fill-in.

After working on his catching, Rosario has been spending extra time practicing fielding intentionally bad throws, and throwing to other bases. Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he plans as even a split as possible for Rosario's game action between first base and catching in Spring Training.

With Gold Glove Award winners at the other positions -- Nolan Arenado (2013-14) at third, Troy Tulowitzki (2010-11) at short and DJ LeMahieu (2014) at second -- solid work from Rosario is needed. Weiss, a standout shortstop during his playing career, threw to strong defensive first basemen throughout his career -- Mark McGwire with the Athletics, and Andres Galarraga with the Rockies and Braves. Those first basemen allowed Weiss to be acrobatic.

"We've got infielders that can finish plays, get throws off -- difficult throws," Weiss said. "Sometimes those throws are just in the vicinity. They're not always going to be right on target. It's important to have a guy at the other end that can finish those plays."

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.