Versatile Rockie Pacheco loves giving back
Jordan Pacheco wants to be the Colorado Rockies’ everyday third baseman.
If it means a spot in the lineup, though, he’s more than willing to grab his first baseman’s glove or dig out the catcher’s equipment.
“If I didn’t think I could do it, I wouldn’t be there, I’d be doing something else,” Pacheco said Friday morning before working with roughly 100 young ballplayers in the three-day Western Slope Baseball Camp in the Maverick Pavilion at Colorado Mesa University. “I’ve got the opportunity to try, and I’m going to give it my best effort. If I can, I can. If I can’t, I gave it a good run.”
Pacheco is spending the offseason working on all of his positions on the field and staying in shape. He and his college teammate at New Mexico, Grand Junction High School graduate Dane Hamilton, got in an early morning workout Friday at the Hamilton Recreation Center at CMU.
And yes, Pacheco lugged his catching equipment with him from Albuquerque.
“I know we’re going to do some work,” he said of getting with Marv Foley, the Colorado Rockies’ catching instructor, sometime this weekend. “Hopefully I can do some work and get a little better this weekend and help some kids get a little better.”
Pacheco, who played for Tony Diaz in 2007 in Casper, Wyo., as he was starting his pro baseball career, readily agreed to work the camp this year, along with several of the Rockies’ instructors. Diaz, the GJ Rockies’ manager, arrived in town Thursday from winter ball in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic.
“You want to try to give back as much as you can,” Pacheco said. “That’s why I like to go back to Albuquerque and to New Mexico. I want the baseball there to be better than when I was growing up. Who knows if I can say something to a kid and help him get to the next level, go to college and help pay for school?”
He hasn’t talked much to new manager Walt Weiss, but Pacheco is confident he’ll get a shot to win the third baseman’s job this spring.
“I’ve been trying to get myself ready for next year and how I can help contribute to the team next year, be a piece of the puzzle,” Pacheco said. “Hopefully I can help us win. That’s all I’m trying to do, all I want to do. I want to be a part of a team ... When you’re part of a team that loses and you see those guys who win, you want to be a part of that.”
He started last season on the big-league roster but was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs in mid-April before being called back up in early May for the rest of the season.
Pacheco played 132 games for the big club and produced, hitting .309, fifth in the National League, with 54 runs batted in, 32 doubles and five home runs. Most of his time (82 games) was spent at third base, but he played 43 games at first base and caught five more. That versatility has been a boon to his career.
“When you’ve got guys who can play different parts on the diamond, it helps when guys get hurt. Guys are going to get hurt, you can’t help that,” Pacheco said. “Guys are going to be sore some days and being able to fill in behind the plate or wherever, it’s nice, and I get to be in the lineup. Hopefully I show them I can be in the lineup, but you still have to hit.”
Hitting .309 in 2012, though, doesn’t guarantee him a spot in the 2013 opening day lineup.
“You’ve got to do it every year,” he said. “Once that year is over, it doesn’t matter. Yeah, he had a nice year, but it’s next year now. What have you done for me lately? That’s just how it is, how this business is. You recognize that as a ballplayer and that’s how it goes.”
Pacheco said he will miss former manager Jim Tracy, who gave him his first chance to play at the Major League level, but he’s eager to see how Weiss runs the club.
“He’s been through it,” Pacheco said of Weiss. “He knows what the season is going to be like. You respect somebody like that. He’s going to put his best effort forward and turn this team around.”
The young third baseman would love to see a healthy Troy Tulowitzki to his left this season and a healthy Todd Helton across the diamond at first base.
The Rockies finished 64-98, their most losses in franchise history. Pacheco wants to be on the field when they turn things around.
“I think we had a little spurt there, maybe in August, when we won a couple of games in a row and had a good two-, three-week span,” he said. “We were winning and thinking, ‘OK, we can do this.’ We’ve got a young squad, and obviously it’s tough when you don’t have your veteran guys to help you and hold your hand going through it.
“It was a learning process for us young guys, but it will help us next year.”