Friday, Sept. 17, 2010
Updated 11:30 PM
By Patrick Mooney
MIAMI Tyler Colvin is left-handed, 6-foot-3 and 25 years old, three reasons why he continues to work out at first base. During batting practice late Friday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium, Starlin Castro threw a ball over his head.
The Cubs like Castros defensive range, but want him to concentrate hard on the territory six feet to his left and six feet to his right, so that he consistently makes the routine plays and cuts down on his errors (26).
It appears that Colvin would make a good target at first base, though he hasnt played there since early in his career at Clemson University, and even then it was in a backup role. The Cubs dont have an immediate long-term answer at the position Xavier Nady is approaching free agency.
If youre envisioning an infield anchored by Colvin and Castro, then youll have to wait.
Before becoming manager, Mike Quades responsibilities as third-base coach included working with the outfielders. Quades seen Colvins arm and athleticism in the outfield, which has allowed the rookie to play in right, center and left.
Quade doesnt plan to play Colvin at first base this weekend in Miami, and refuses to experiment against a contender. So the only window would be the seasons final series if we wanted to have fun some fun in Houston. (It) would almost be on a whim at this point.
Its not like hes taking balls at short, Quade said. This could be a valuable thing for him someday. I just dont know if its going to be a valuable thing for him in the next two weeks.
And so the education continues for Colvin, who woke up Friday with 20 home runs, tied for the lead among all major-league rookies with Florida Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton.
Colvin generated only 15 homers last year while splitting his time between Class-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. He still does not view himself as a home-run hitter. He accounted for 56 in 442 career minor-league games.
Until his promotion from Double-A Jacksonville on June 8, Stanton had hit 89 homers across 323 games in the minors. When asked what it would mean to finish the season with the rookie lead in home runs, Colvin replied, Not much.
That answer basically sums up Colvin, who is friendly and accommodating and makes sure not to say anything controversial in a big media market. He hasnt complained about playing time or a potential position switch. He managed to stay out of the Steve Stone controversy when the White Sox broadcaster criticized Lou Piniella for not giving him enough at-bats.
Hes an intelligent kid, Quade said. He listens, he learns, he tries to do the right thing. (This) kid also has a lot of the intangibles that should allow him to get the most out of his ability.
Hes been through a lot and Ill be damned hes handled everything really well.
Part of it is seeing how the National League attacks your swing, making adjustments and identifying pitches. Colvin was 2-for-10 this season against Chris Carpenter when he stepped in against the former Cy Young Award winner Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.
Colvin launched a 3-2 curveball 383 feet into the right-field seats for a three-run homer that was a finishing touch on a three-game sweep of the Cardinals that had analyst Jack Clark calling them quitters the next day on St. Louis radio.
Colvin had been stuck on 19 homers since Aug. 24. And his batting averageon-base percentage numbers have gone through the ups and downs: .289.365 in April; .333.367 in May; .250.280 in June; .253.330 in July; .215.271 in August; and .243.282 in September.
He processed another piece of firsthand information against Carpenter, which should help him wherever he plays in the future, and whenever he gets 500-plus plate appearances in a season.
You can go off what everybodys telling you, Colvin said, but until you get up there and experience it for yourself, thats what you got to go (with).
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.