Ex-Cubs Tyler Colvin, DL LeMahieu have caught on with Rockies
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org September 25, 2012 11:34PM
Former Cub DJ LeMahieu is “a winning player,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. | Doug Pensinger~Getty Images
Updated: October 27, 2012 6:26AM
DENVER — DJ LeMahieu wasn’t surprised when he got the call last December from assistant general manager Randy Bush.
‘‘I was shocked,’’ he said of the moment he learned he and Tyler Colvin had been traded to the Colorado Rockies for Ian Stewart and pitching prospect Casey Weathers.
Barely nine months later, Colvin and LeMahieu were in the Rockies’ lineup Tuesday night against the Cubs, both having seasons that have put them in the Rockies’ plans for next year.
Along the way, Weathers disappeared in the Cubs’ system, and Stewart — well, unless you follow him on Twitter, it’s hard to tell. As Cubs manager Dale Sveum said a few weeks ago, ‘‘I’ve kind of lost track of him.’’
So much for the first trade of the Theo Epstein era. Whatever else the Cubs’ new regime does in the next few years, this upside-for-upside, change-of-scenery trade was a whiff for the Cubs.
‘‘Ty and I have had fun together here,’’ said LeMahieu, the guy several baseball people in the organization have said privately all year shouldn’t have been included in the deal.
LeMahieu has helped the Rockies’ infield cover for the injury absence of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki by taking over at second base. He’s hitting .288 after his second three-hit game in three days Tuesday as he and Colvin combined to go 5-for-7 with three RBI and 10 total bases in the Rockies’ 10-5, rain-shortened victory over the Cubs.
‘‘I take that personal, for sure,’’ LeMahieu said. ‘‘I know it’s a business, but I still take it personal.’’
Rockies manager Jim Tracy calls LeMahieu a ‘‘terrific defender at second base’’ and looks at his 6-3 frame with an eye on pull-hitting power potential he hopes to see develop with experience — a missing ingredient in LeMahieu’s hitting form that was part of the Cubs’ willingness to part with him.
‘‘He’s a winning player,’’ Tracy said. ‘‘He’s a winning piece on a championship-caliber club, and that’s what we’re obviously working [toward] right now.’’
Colvin, whose 20-homer rookie season was followed last year by a .150, six-homer backpedal, was the bigger part of the Rockies’ side of the trade and has made the most of his change of scenery. He entered Tuesday hitting .285 with 49 extra-base hits and tripled home two runs in the third inning to reach 70 RBI in 391 at-bats.
Along the way, he’s started at all three outfield spots and first base.
‘‘The athleticism of this player is extremely intriguing, as far as I’m concerned,’’ Tracy said.
A change of scenery didn’t come close to having the same effect on Stewart, whom Tracy still lauded for ‘‘through the roof’’ potential.
On the other hand, one Rockies official said he was not surprised to learn that Stewart (.201, five homers) made himself scarce once he had midseason wrist surgery, spending more time tweeting from home about USC football and professional wrestling than communicating with team officials.
Colvin said he’s not trying to prove anything to the Cubs and isn’t taking particular satisfaction in having a good year after the trade.
‘‘I expected to bounce back, and it’s just that I did it over here with the Rockies and not with the Cubs,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s nice that I’m having a good year. I’m glad I’m doing it here, the first year here, and showing these guys what I can do.’’