Rockies’ Brendan Rodgers, Trevor Story’s heir apparent, having solid season

Brendan Rodgers hasn’t done anything especially dramatic so far this season. He’s just played solid baseball and is steadily evolving into a productive big-leaguer.

“I definitely feel like I have come a long way from a lot of injuries and stuff,” the infielder said Monday before the Rockies played the Angels and superstar Shohei Ohtani at Anaheim, Calif. “I’m feeling more like a part of the team because I’m playing every day and I’m contributing. Those are huge factors.”

Rodgers, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, made his Rockies debut on May 17, 2019, but played in just 25 games before he underwent surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder. He suffered a strained hamstring during this year’s spring training and didn’t begin playing for Colorado until May 21.

As the Rockies play out another losing season and beginning cobbling together their future, Rodgers will become a centerpiece, especially with shortstop Trevor Story not long for Colorado. If Story does not get moved by Friday’s trade deadline, he will very likely become a free agent at the end of the season.

Should Story be traded this week, Rodgers would slide over from second to short, his natural position.

“I feel just as confident, if not more, at short than I do second,” Rodgers said. “I played it pretty much my entire life. The confidence is always high. No matter where you put me, I’ll do my best to be great.”

Monday night, Rodgers hit second in the order again, a spot he’s earned because of his consistent at-bats, manager Bud Black said.

“He’s swung the bat really well since his return, and his on-base percentage is good, in a spot that sets up well (for the heart of the order),” Black said. “We like him getting the extra at-bat as the game gets into the later innings. It’s more about performance than anything, with some potential thump at the top, with some power.”

Rodgers, who entered Monday’s game hitting .263 with five home runs in 173 plate appearances, has been on a steady roll. Since June 3, he slashed .288/.348/.488 with all five of his home runs, six doubles, two triples and 18 RBIs. While many of his teammates have bad home/road splits, Rodgers has actually produced better numbers on the road (.268 average, three homers) than at Coors (.259, two homers).

“I actually enjoy hitting away from home as much as I enjoy hitting at home,” Rodgers said. “The ball doesn’t fly as much (as at home), but I’ve played at sea-level pretty much my whole life and I’ve been used to it.

“It also helps with all of the (pitching) machine work we have been doing. In the first game on the road, or at a new ballpark, we hit a lot against the machine. That’s played a big part in some of my success.”

Black’s return. Black was back in the captain’s seat Monday after clearing Major League Baseball’s COVID and contact tracing protocols.

Black, who is fully vaccinated, missed eight games and had not managed the team since the all-star break. Bench coach Mike Redmond served as the acting manager during Black’s absence. Colorado went 3-5 under Redmond.

From his homes in Colorado and San Diego, Black was frequently in contact with Redmond, interim general manager Bill Schmidt and a number of players, either via phone, text or email. However, he had to watch games on TV and he said it was a strange experience.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the weirdest, it was a 10,” Black said.