Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jayson Nix Future Brightens with HR, 3-3 Outing

No clear concensus is apparent as to who will be the Rockies starting second baseman when the season opens, but one thing for sure: young Jayson Nix didn't hurt his chances by going 3-3 with his third homer of the spring in the team's recent 4-2 win over the Giants at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Ariz.

Complicating the issue, former top prospect Ian Stewart hit his third homer in three games, this one a 10th inning shot to right center to win the game, thus keeping his name in the mix for the job.

Nix and Stewart are among five candidates to play second, with Nix having been the early spring favorite until being overtaken by veteran Marcus Giles, then outfielder-infielder Jeff Baker.

Baker and his 6-foot-3 frame could put up a significantly different looking goal post the middle of the diamond compared to Nix and the other more diminutive but quicker rivals, plus Baker can hit for power. The problem is, Baker's bat has begun to fail him, with Nix's 3-3 performance lifting his average to the .270 range while Baker's has been fluctuating in the .230s and .240s after his hot start in exhibition and split-squad contests.

Baker no longer know where he stands, nor whether he will even make the roster.

"You know how it is," Baker told www.MLBnewonline.com. "If you can hit you can hit. If you can't you can't. (That's) baseball."

Clubhouse sources said no one -- not even the front office brain trust -- knows for sure who will come out on top in the competition to start at second. But Nix -- a defensive whiz who has hit for average in the minors -- appears to be the player that management hopes will win the job.