MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

LeMahieu flexes glove in first All-Star Game

Tulo, Arenado hitless in pinch-hit appearances

LeMahieu flexes glove in first All-Star Game

CINCINNATI -- Don't get caught up with the box score. The Rockies' three All-Star representatives aren't.

Tuesday night's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile was more about the experience than that 6-3 American League victory against the National League at Great American Ball Park.

For DJ LeMahieu, it was a night of recognition, finding himself in the starting lineup at second base when Dee Gordon was scratched with an injury. LeMahieu had the next highest number of votes on the players' ballot and therefore was elevated to starter in Gordon's place.

"Playing in a game like this was cool," he said. "The top of the first I was nervous. I was totally out of my element, but after that I felt comfortable. It was just a game."

He went 0-for-2, but he kept his focus on his approach to hitting, lining out to center field in the third and lining out to right field in the fifth.

And it was just LeMahieu doing what he does as the reigning Gold Glove Award winner among NL second baseman. With two outs in the top of the second, LeMahieu ranged to his left, slid and robbed Astros' second baseman Jose Altuve of a hit.

He has put to rest the attitude so many had that at 6-foot-4, he was too tall to play the position.

"That's what I always felt was my biggest challenge, getting the opportunity," LeMahieu said. "I always felt I could play second base if they would let me."

The only other player to stand 6-foot-4 and play even 100 games at second base was George "High Pockets" Kelly, a Hall of Fame first baseman with the New York Giants who started at second one year when Frankie Frisch was injured. Dick "Turkey" Hall, who stood 6-foot-6, was originally an outfielder with the Pirates, but played seven games at second base, before eventually becoming a pitcher.

"He has a feel for the position," said Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, an All-Star himself. "It may not be an orthodox approach but he has a feel for the game. I've heard people say he 'Makes all the plays.' I'd say, no, he makes more than all the plays."

For Tulowitzki, this was more low key than his five All-Star appearances.

"Last year I was in the Home Run Derby and the starting lineup," he said. "This year was a different atmosphere. This year I was added late [as a replacement for the injured Gordon], and was told I'd probably pinch-hit."

He hit for Kris Bryant in the bottom of the sixth and grounded into an inning-ending fielder's choice. But he stayed on the bench until the game ended.

"I was able to soak up what was going on a lot more," said Tulowitzki. "The Home Run Derby was cool. There was a different format [with brackets and a four-minute time limit on each player]. I think it worked out."

The night was "cool" for Nolan Arenado, a defensive replacement at third base in the seventh, a strikeout victim in the eighth, but an eager listener during his two days at the ballpark.

"I talked to guys, took advantage of the opportunity to be around players like this and pick their brains," he said. "I work hard. I have a routine, but to talk to guys, find out what they do to stay in sharp, to be durable. … I asked about their routines. I asked about how they lived. I asked about what they did to stay strong.

"These guys are the best in the business. I might as well get all the advice I can from them."

Arenado smiled.

Reality hit.

He is one of those guys, too.

He is one of the best in the business.

He, however, is young enough to know he can be even better.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.