Aug. 5, 2003
Courtesy of MLB.com
Colorado promoted third baseman Garrett Atkins from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday.
The 23-year-old, right-handed hitter was batting .320 (133-for-415) in 110 games in the Pacific Coast League this season.
Atkins said he wondered why he was removed from the lineup before Colorado Springs' last game.
"I kind of suspected (the promotion)," Atkins said, though he was cautious of getting too optimistic. "You don't really believe it until the manager says it."
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said the move will give the organization a chance to evaluate a top prospect at the Major League level.
"Bringing Atkins up is giving us another opportunity to actually get a litmus test on one of our young players," Hurdle said.
Hurdle said Atkins will get ample playing time.
"(Chris) Stynes is never going to be a third baseman who plays seven days a week for me," Hurdle said referring to one of his alternative options. "He knows that.
"Garrett will get opportunities over at third. This way also we can (get Todd) Helton a day off soon."
Atkins appeared in three games at first base for Colorado Springs this season.
"This kind of gives us added versatility," Hurdle said. "And we'll see how he can handle Major League Baseball."
Atkins, who mostly played first base while at UCLA, said staying in the minors for the better half of the season helped him.
"I knew I still had a lot of things that I needed to work on," Atkins said. "Pretty much at third base and staying consistent over there."
Atkins impressed the Rockies early this season by hitting .525 (21-for-40) with a slugging percentage of .800 in Spring Training. He also had one homer and 12 RBIs.
The high level of pitching allowed Atkins to improve, the right-handed slugger said.
"(The Pacific Coast League) is a good league," Atkins said. "(There were) definitely better pitchers than I had played before."
Hurdle said he wants the young player to focus on doing what he has done and not worry about hitting home runs. Atkins had 13 homers this year with Colorado Springs.
"We're just asking (Atkins) to play the game the same way he played it down there (at Triple-A)," Hurdle said. "He's continuing to work every day on his defense, and he's got work to do there.
"Offensively, he's a gap-to-gap hitter who drives the ball. He's got power, he's not a home-run hitter, but we don't want him to try to be one here.
"He was consistently performing at a high level there."
Hurdle said one positive going for Atkins is his ability to recognize balls and strikes.
"(Atkins) showed extraordinary discipline," Hurdle said about Atkins' Spring Training appearance. "He put the barrel on the ball consistently and moved the ball all around the ballpark."
Regardless of the Triple-A numbers, Hurdle said a player must perform at the Major League level before he can be properly evaluated.
"Time will tell," Hurdle said. "(Atkins is) not tested at this level yet."
Atkins said he did not set a timetable for making the Major Leagues.
"I just kind of wanted to play and hoped it'd work out and I'd get my spot up here," Atkins said. "Hopefully I can keep it."