Arenado prepares for bout at the plate

Arenado prepares for bout at the plate

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado wants to come out ahead in more best vs. best matchups.

Arenado is recognized as one of the game's best players. He ranked 12th in MLB Network's recent ranking of baseball's Top 100 players. But he sees the next step as performing better against some of the best opposing pitchers, especially in the National League West.

It's a challenge, however. He is 7-for-33 (.212) with two doubles and two home runs against the Giants' Madison Bumgarner, 7-for-31 with no homers and four doubles against the D-backs' Zack Greinke, and 4-for-26 with a double against the D-backs' Patrick Corbin.

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Arenado is respectable to successful against some big-name guys -- .250 (5-for-20) with a home run against the Giants' Johnny Cueto, .303 (10-for-33) with a home run against the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. But the more production Arenado can display against the top pitchers, the better for a Rockies club that's trying to climb into the playoff hunt.

Arenado hit 42 home runs in 2015 and 41 in 2016, and finished those seasons with 130 and 133 RBIs, respectively. So the top pitchers don't want him beating them.

"There are great pitchers you would love to have better at-bats against," Arenado said. "I'm not going to name them, but there are guys in our division I would like to have better at-bats against. And when we went to L.A., I struggled and would like to compete better [7-for-40, two homers last season at Dodger Stadium]."

The plan, of course, is secret. But generally, staying out of pitchers counts to guys who can put away hitters is good.

"I don't like to say too much about tendencies, but I've got to be ready to hit and not give anything away," he said. "When you give stuff away to these good pitchers, things start to get a little bit tougher. It's being ready earlier in the count. If I see a pitch I can hit, be ready to go and not just give one up."

Worth noting

• Who's on first? For the 97,000th time, Ian Desmond: Rockies manager Bud Black said that while Desmond, who signed for five years and $70 million, could be an emergency option at other positions, he's going to focus on the switch to first base this spring. He may keep skills fresh at shortstop and in the outfield, but it's possible he won't appear anywhere but first in a Cactus League game.

Desmond on playing first base

• With Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Arenado will wear No. 12 instead of his familiar 28, which will belong to Giants catcher Buster Posey, who has seniority. Arenado doesn't mind 12. "It was my number in high school -- plus, there's Tom Brady ... and [teammate] Mark Reynolds."

• Righty reliever Adam Ottavino received a multi-colored glove from Wilson when his order came in, but because it has plenty of white in the palm and on the fingers, you won't see it in a game. Under Rule 3.07 (1.15) (a), a mitt "may not, exclusive of piping, be white, gray, nor, in the judgment of an umpire, distracting in any manner." Ottavino said he designed it by computer, and just wanted to see how many colors he could put on it.

Ottavino on closers in bullpen

• Wet grounds at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick limited the fielders' ability to work during Monday's first full-squad workout. But Black noted that players arrived so early that he didn't believe the lack of such work was costly.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. 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.