PHOENIX -- Sometimes a seat on the bench can be a reward. Rockies manager Jim Tracy held third baseman Chris Nelson out of the starting lineup for the final two regular-season games to make sure his batting average stayed in the .300 range.Nelson entered Wednesday's finale with a .301 average. He could remain at .300 with two hitless at-bats. After starting at third on Opening Day, Nelson slumped early and was out from May 15-31 with a left wrist injury. He was also on the disabled list from July 16 to Aug. 6 with an irregular heartbeat. The second time he returned, he was hitting .256. But with health and regular playing time, Nelson batted .345 with four home runs and 30 RBIs in 53 games going into Wednesday. "It's just a special accomplishment, something you dream of as a kid and it came true for me," Nelson said of going into the books as having a .300 season. It wasn't clear how much he would play or if he would be a regular. Nelson had spent time at second base last season but the Rockies acquired Marco Scutaro for the position. Nelson battled Jordan Pacheco for the starting job at third throughout Spring Training. As the season progressed, both hit well enough to stay in the lineup. Next season, with numerous injured players expected to be healthy, there could be challenges. Pacheco will need at-bats, and if veteran Todd Helton returns, it could limit Nelson to third. Nelson and Pacheco shared third base during the early weeks of this season. Also, the Rockies have power-hitting prospect Nolan Arenado, who played this year at Double-A Tulsa and could challenge in Spring Training or during next season. "I feel like it's going to be a battle the whole way, but competition makes everybody better, I don't care who you are," Nelson said. "It was that way with Pacheco and me. You've just got to be ready." Other hitters at or above the mark are Pacheco -- who was at .306 at the start of the season finale and in line to finish in the top 10 in the National League and lead NL rookies -- Carlos Gonzalez at .303 and Dexter Fowler at .300. Gonzalez (hamstring) and Fowler (wrist) sat out the final days with injuries.
Tracy wants to be back in Rox dugout next season
PHOENIX -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy will meet Friday with club vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett to discuss the direction of the franchise. Tracy made it clear Wednesday, before the regular-season finale with the D-backs, that he wants to guide the team.Tracy is signed through next season under a deal that avoids having him manage in the last year of his contract. But commitment to continuing with him on the field will have to come out of the meeting. The Rockies have not cast doubt on Tracy returning, but the organization has gone through massive changes and a solid direction must be set. "I'm here," Tracy said. "I have a lot of people in that clubhouse that I love. You hear me. I don't just like them. I love them. "What is so meaningful to me is when you have a season like this, there does come a point in time when there's a lot of finger-pointing going on. I have no sense whatsoever that's what's taking place. That's real gratifying. I've never had to walk in, look in the mirror and say, 'They quit on me today.'" Not only will Tracy's team lose the most games in a season in Rockies history, but it's a record for losses for a Tracy-managed club -- and he managed Pirates teams in 2006 and 2007. But Tracy insisted this situation is different. This team dealt with the injury losses of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, first baseman Todd Helton, outfielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer and catcher Ramon Hernandez, as well as significant time lost for pitchers Juan Nicasio, Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa. All could be part of the picture next year, and Tracy has liked the performance of the young players. "No disrespect meant, but back at that time in Pittsburgh, there weren't too many young kids to go to," Tracy said. "It continued to be a bunch of veteran guys who were playing to finish up 162 games. One highlight going back to those days was the emergence of Freddy Sanchez, and I saw the potential emergence of Jose Bautista. "Here now, you're talking about Wilin Rosario, Jordan Pacheco, DJ LeMahieu, Dexter Fowler, Josh Rutledge, pitching-wise Drew Pomeranz and Alex White's capability. There's so much more in this package than there was then." If the talent is there, the biggest question is direction. "It is important for the theme to be one general thing that this is how we're going to do it," Tracy said. "This is how we're going to stay with it. This is how we're going to go about it. This is the way we have to go about it in order for it to be able to work."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.