Prior to 2010, the last time Colorado Rockies fans saw second baseman Jonathan Herrera in Coors Field was back in 2008. He spent all of May and half of June with the Rockies because Troy Tulowitzki tore a tendon in his left quadriceps in an April game against the San Francisco Giants. You know the game, the one that saw Clint Barmes shift over to shortstop and Garrett Atkins to second base while Chris Iannetta entered as the third baseman. That really was an awesome game, one of the top three of the season.
Back to Herrera. He appeared in 28 games and played second base in 21 of them. There wasn't much offensively, hitting .230/.277/.279 with a double, a triple, and three RBI. Still, it was good exposure for the then 23-year-old Venezuelan. He spent all of 2009 in Colorado Springs, putting up a .692 OPS over 119 games.
Herrera was in Colorado Springs until the Rockies recalled him on May 31, 2010.Herrera took on an increased role with the team when Troy Tulowitzki went down with a broken wrist on June 17. He manned second base while Barmes moved over to short for the duration. He did a somewhat respectable job by hitting .278/.333/.329 in June and July.
The highlight of that period came on July 19 when Herrera hit his first career major league homer. It was the top of the eighth inning in a game against the Florida Marlins. Ian Stewart hit a one-out solo home run off of Clay Hensley to deep right center field in Sun Life Stadium to narrow the score to 7-5 in favor of the Marlins. Clint Barmes managed a walk before Brad Eldred hit a fly out to center field. Seth Smith drew a walk to put Barmes into scoring position.
Jhan Marinez replaced Hensley on the mound and was ready to preserve the lead and end the inning.
On the fourth pitch, Herrera hit a line drive shot to deep right field (video) for a home run, putting the Rockies up, 8-7. As Drew Goodman remarked, "Do you believer that! ... I am flat shocked." Herrera finally broke out a smile while in the dugout, receiving congratulations from his teammates.
Unfortunately, Herrera's hero status for the game disappeared in the ninth inning with two outs. Huston Street entered in the bottom of the ninth inning and used seven pitches to get the first two outs. But then he walked Dan Uggla. Two pitches later, pinch-hitter Donnie Murphy, playing in only his fifth game this season, became the unlikely hero of the game when he hit the game-winning home run.
Herrera returned to Colorado Springs after August 1, but was soon recalled on August 21. In September/October, he played decently in 22 games (12 starts), finishing the month and two days with a .722 OPS.
2010 Grade: C. As Jeff wrote a few months ago, Herrera was the best of the no-better-than-average second baseman the Rockies had in 2010.
2011 Outlook: Presumably, second base is an open competition in spring training between Herrera, Jose Lopez, Chris Nelson, and Eric Young Jr. (And make what you will of all that Michael Young conjecture.) Should he not win the derby and Lopez becomes the starter at second base, Herrera could have the advantage in winning a spot on the bench because of his versatility.