Second baseman Josh Rutledge will make his first Opening Day start when the Colorado Rockies launch the 2013 season Monday at Milwaukee. And that milestone for Rutledge will also extend Colorado's unusual and rather embarrassing streak of Opening Day second basemen.
Rutledge will be 13th second baseman to start on Opening Day for the Rockies in 13 years. The last time the Rockies had a second baseman make consecutive Opening Day starts was in 2000, when Mike Lansing was at second for the third straight year.
Rutledge turns 24 on April 21, so he has a chance to become entrenched at second base and put an end to the revolving door on Opening Day for the Rockies at that position. Rutledge is a shortstop by trade and played that position regularly after the Rockies recalled him from Double-A Tulsa at the All-Star break last season.
But that opportunity arose for Rutledge because the Rockies were going nowhere and because shortstop Troy Tulowitkzi had not played since suffering what turned out to be a season-ending groin injury May 30.
Tulowitzki is healthy, and Rutledge has moved to second base.
Since Lansing started at second base in 2000, the Rockies' starters at that position on Opening Day have been Todd Walker in 2001, Jose Ortiz (2002), Ronnie Belliard (2003), Luis Gonzalez (2004), Aaron Miles (2005), Gonzalez (2006), Kazuo Matsui (2007), Jayson Nix (2008), Ian Stewart (2009), Clint Barmes (2011) and Marco Scutaro (2012).
The Rockies drafted Rutledge in the third round in 2010 out of Alabama. In the 12 years since Lansing's last Opening Day start at second base for the Rockies, they have had just three homegrown players start at second base on Opening Day -- Nix, Stewart and Barmes.
Barmes started at shortstop on Opening Day for the Rockies in 2005 and 2006 but shifted to second base with the arrival of Tulowitzki. Barmes was expecting to start at second base in 2009 when the Rockies opened the season at Arizona, but manager Clint Hurdle decided to go with an additional left-handed hitter in his lineup against Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb -- he was coming off three seasons when he had won the National League Cy Young Award in 2006 and finished second in the vote the next two years -- and sat Barmes in place of Stewart, a third baseman by trade.
The Rockies are beginning their 21st season. Rutledge will be just the fifth player developed by the Rockies to start at second base on Opening Day. In addition to Rutledge, Nix, Stewart and Barmes, Jason Bates started at second base in 1996.