TUCSON, Ariz. — Clint Barmes isn’t sweating out a roster spot this spring.
The second base job has all but been conceded to the Colorado Rockies veteran, especially with Jeff Baker battling a bum elbow.
Barmes has no worry of anyone overtaking him.
Still, the versatile infielder remains unconvinced.
Barmes takes nothing as certain.
That’s what a choppy career will do to a player. He’s had odd injuries derail promising seasons and has been the odd man out more than once.
“It’s been pretty bumpy,” Barmes said of his career. “I’ve gone through a lot of changes.”
All to lead him here — a spring where he can hone his swing without feeling like every at-bat is an audition.
That’s the reward for a solid season. Barmes is coming off a year in which he hit .290 and had a career-high 11 home runs.
The Rockies even gave Barmes a vote of confidence in the offseason, electing not to bring in any outside competition. Barmes was expected to battle for the spot with Omar Quintanilla, Eric Young Jr. and Baker.
But Baker has missed most of the spring with an inflamed right elbow, Quintanilla may fill more of a utility role and Young was recently sent to the minors.
“I’m very happy and excited to get the opportunity I’ve gotten,” said Barmes, who avoided arbitration by signing a one-year deal in January.
So far this spring, he’s hitting .300 and has been dependable in the field. He and shortstop savant Troy Tulowitzki are quickly turning into quite the double-play tandem, a process that began midway through last season when both came back from injuries.
“He’s a guy you want to play next to,” Tulowitzki said. “It’s going to be awesome to play with him for a full year up the middle.”
That’s a different story from last spring when nothing was promised to Barmes, his career hanging by a thread.
It didn’t take him long to work his way into the starting lineup, taking over at second when Jayson Nix struggled.
Barmes then filled in for Tulowitzki when the slick-fielding shortstop went on the disabled list with a torn quadriceps.
Soon after, Barmes would follow.
Barmes was swinging a hot bat, hitting .343, when Jose Reyes slid into him during a game in late May, spraining Barmes’ right knee. The ailment sidelined him for nearly a month. He fell off a bit upon his return, but still hit .306 over his final 29 games of the season.
That did wonders for his confidence.
He’s all but assured of being the starter at second.
Just don’t remind him of that.
He’s taking nothing for granted.