Rockies’ Brendan Rodgers knows it’s time to fulfill his potential



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On a gorgeous 76-degree day in the desert, Brendan Rodgers sat in the shade, looking fit and relaxed and bubbling with confidence as he discussed the season ahead.

“You haven’t seen me, be me. I’m ready to be me and get out there and show people what I’m capable of,” Rodgers said Tuesday after the Rockies’ first full-squad workout of spring training.

The Rockies would rejoice should that come to pass.

Rodgers, after all, was the third overall pick of the 2015 draft out of Lake Mary High School in Florida. He received a $5.5 million signing bonus at age 18.  At the time, Rodgers said he wanted to make the majors by age 21.

He almost reached that goal, but so far, he’s been more about potential than performance.

Since making his big-league debut on May 17, 2019, at age 22, he’s hit .196 with a .235 on-base percentage in 97 at-bats over 32 games. He has yet to hit a home run. Injuries, most crucially a torn labrum in his right shoulder that required season-ending surgery in July 2019, have defined his career.

Rodgers understands it’s his job to translate potential into production.

Manager Bud Black is confident Rodgers can pull it off, and provide the Rockies with the starting second baseman they need.

“There’s another year of maturity, and another year of growth, and I think now he sees himself as a guy (where) this can potentially be his year,” Black said. “To make that statement of, ‘I’m a major league player.’ I think that’s how he’s viewing things right now.”

The chain reaction of the Nolan Arenado trade to St. Louis early this month created the opportunity for Rodgers. Ryan McMahon will slide over to third to replace Arenado and Rodgers will replace McMahon at second. At least that’s the plan.

When the Arenado trade came down, Rodgers looked in the mirror and said, ‘It’s time to go.”

Rodgers grew up as a shortstop, and should Rockies star Trevor Story be traded this season, or leave as a free agent after the season, Rodgers might return to his natural position. He’ll take reps at second, third and short during camp, but for now, he’s primarily a second baseman.

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Colorado Rockies infielder Brendan Rodgers at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Feb. 23, 2021.

He describes his comfort level there as, “100% … 10 out of 10. I feel great and I got plenty of work there in the offseason.”

Most notably, Rodgers worked out in his native Florida with Dee Strange-Gordon, the former Dodgers and Marlins all-star who’s now in camp with Cincinnati on a minor-league deal.

“We grew up in the same area and I grew up playing travel ball for his dad,” Rodgers said, referring to former big-league pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon. “Dee and I happened to be training at the same facility and we got our reps in pretty much every day, building up to the season.”

Dee Strange-Gordon worked with Story on his footwork around the bag and gave him pointers about turning smoother, quicker double plays.

What Black wants to see from Rodgers is “consistency in all areas.”

“We have seen flashes in the big leagues — flashes — in about 100 at-bats,” Black said. “He needs to prove he can stay healthy and stay on the field to let that talent show.”

Rodgers goes through a rigorous daily routine to keep his shoulder strong and healthy, pointing out that he has no limitations on any throws. He’s also muscled up to 215 pounds, built leg strength and learned how to take better care of his body.

“I do everything I can in my power to stay healthy and stay on the field,” he said. “I’ve cleaned up a lot of my (diet) and cleaned up the ways I go about my business and what I put in my body,” he said. “I just have to continue on with that. I expect it’s going to be a healthy, good year.”

For a number of years, Rodgers was Colorado’s No. 1 prospect. He admitted that, at times, it could be a burden.

“Obviously, I didn’t have the hottest start to my big-league career, but I’m here to turn that around and I’m very confident I’m going to do so,” he said.

Rodgers smacked 17 home runs in 95 games with Double-A Hartford in 2018 and nine homers in 37 games with Triple-A Albuquerque in 2019 before his big-league call-up.He’s ready to hit one in the big leagues.

“I’m going to act like I’ve been there — whenever that time comes,” he said with a laugh. “I’m sure I’m going to get some crap in the dugout, but I’m hoping that comes here pretty soon.”