Amarista, Valaika's efforts won't go unnoticed

Amarista, Valaika's efforts won't go unnoticed

Trevor Story returned to the starting lineup at shortstop for the Rockies on Wednesday night against the Phillies. But his fill-ins for 13 games since he suffered a left shoulder strain -- Alexi Amarista and Pat Valaika -- did enough in Story's absence to not be forgotten in manager Bud Black's future playing time decisions.

The Rockies signed Amarista to a one-year deal during the offseason, in part because of his familiarity with Black, who managed him with the Padres. During Story's absence, Amarista led the team in batting aveage (.458), on-base percentage (.458), slugging (.708) and OPS (1.167). All this came on a team that has Charlie Blackmon on fire from the leadoff spot.

And forget the old light-hitting glove man label. Amarista drove in seven runs, including three on a homer and another on a hit in the same inning during a 12-6 victory at Cincinnati.

Valaika hit just .194 with Story out; however. His three homers were tied for second on the team during that stretch, and he drove in six runs.

"They've been great, just look at the numbers. Look at what they've done in their starts," Black said. "Alexi's average is well over .300, he's getting on base, he's knocking in some runs. The big home run in Cincinnati to stretch the lead from 2-1 to 5-1 the other night.

"Pat's big two-home run game against the Dodgers, which was huge. Those guys are doing great, they're playing defense, and at that position, those guys have held their own and they've been productive."

Valaika's two-run homer

Black has multiple positional options with both. Amarista has started at second base, third base, left field and center field -- plus he entered in right when Carlos Gonzalez left a game in San Diego with a right calf strain. Valaika has started at second base, third base and left field, in addition to shortstop. Valaika added first base to his skill set during Spring Training.

"They'll get their pinch-hit at-bats and Trevor isn't going to start every game," Black said. "We'll figure that out daily."

Worth noting

• Black said first baseman Mark Reynolds, with a .319 batting average, 12 homers and 39 RBIs, will return to the starting lineup Thursday -- after not starting Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Just giving him a little couple days' respite," Black said. "He's fine. Wanted to get Gerardo Parra in there, thought there were some good matchups for him and I think it was a good time for Mark. Actually, we gave Mark two games [off] in San Diego right when Ian Desmond came back, he got two games off. He probably wants to play."

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