Facing more shifts, Arenado won't change approach

Facing more shifts, Arenado won't change approach

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Nolan Arenado figures if he hits the ball hard enough, there aren't enough places the opponent can place defenders. He scorched a sixth-inning double past Dodgers third baseman Brandon Hicks during the Rockies' 7-3 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon.

The right-handed-hitting Arenado has seen an increase in the number of shifts against him this spring, not that it has mattered. His 2-for-3 day left his Cactus League batting average at .593 and his OPS through 12 games at a side-splitting 1.519.

Realizing it would be crazy to change a pull-oriented approach that led to 42 home runs last year, Arenado won't change it because of the shift. He'll take his chances hitting over the fence or, like Wednesday, through the thicket of fielders. Arenado also had a fourth-inning RBI single to left.

Arenado's RBI single

"I'm going to see it more this year than I've seen it in the past -- a lot of the homers I hit were to left, and I pull the ball a lot," Arenado said. "But that's OK. I really trust my swing, and I really like to use the whole field when I need to."

Arenado could benefit from shift-mitigating conditions. Arenado will bat cleanup in a Rockies lineup that tends to hit well at home, and men on base discourage shifts. And manager Walt Weiss noted that Arenado uses the opposite gap.

"He'll be fine -- he handles the bat well," Weiss said. "He's always been good in the big part of the field, and when they pitch him in, he turns on the ball like we've seen this spring. I'm sure there will be times he'll hit into it, but there will be times he beats it, too."

Intriguing pickups

Outfielder Noel Cuevas, acquired from the Dodgers for pitcher Juan Nicasio after the 2014 season, went 2-for-2 to lift his spring batting average to .667 (6-for-9). Also, catcher-utility infielder Tony Wolters, claimed from the Indians off waivers at the start of Spring Training, went 1-for-3 with a double to leave his average at .462 (6-for-13).

Weiss said Cuevas "has shown us that he's a good bat handler. I think he had around 20 bunt hits last year. He can shoot the ball the other way. He's done a nice job -- a well-rounded player, good defender at all three spots."

The Rockies' emphasis on versatility led them to claim Wolters, who played mostly catcher since 2012 in the Indians' system, but has 22 infield innings against nine behind the plate this spring.

"He grinds out at-bats and finds his way to be in the middle of things offensively," Weiss said. "He's extremely versatile defensively. He looks like an all-around baseball player."

Worth noting
• Righty reliever Jason Motte threw one inning and struck out one in a Minor League game against a Giants Triple-A squad on Wednesday.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.