Including Tuesday, rookie infielder Miguel Rojas has found himself in two key defensive moments with Clayton Kershaw on the mound.
The first came in Kershaw’s no-hitter, where Rojas made a backhanded stop on a chopper and threw from foul territory to get Troy Tulowitzki in time and keep Kershaw’s no-hitter intact after he had lost the opportunity of throwing a perfect game on a Hanley Ramirez error.
Rojas was again in the mix Tuesday with the Los Angeles Dodgers leading the Kansas City Royals by one run in the seventh inning. With runners on the corners and two outs, Alcides Escobar hit a shot that skipped off the mound and began to make its way towards splitting the hole between Rojas and Carlos Triunfel.
Rojas not only covered enough ground to track the ball down, he did so quick enough that he was able to set his feet and throw to first for the final out of the inning. While his latest play didn’t save a historic performance, it kept the Dodgers ahead in the game, which they wound up winning.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, following the win Rojas had to answer questions from friends and family in Venezuela as to why he started at second base and not shortstop, his natural position:
Everybody there is excited about me being in the Major Leagues, but they all ask me, ‘Why are you playing third?'” said Rojas. “I explain that I’m not an everyday player yet and I have to cover all the positions. This is my job.
While Rojas has been asked to play positions other than shortstop, he doesn’t view it as a negative and plays to help his pitcher out:
I’m just trying to be good so I can be around longer. I know the pitchers want me behind them to make plays like that. Kershaw is always dealing for us and somebody has to be behind him to make the plays. That ball tonight wasn’t hit hard, but it was a tough play. The pitcher works so hard and he deserves to get an out. If we don’t get the out, the runner scores.”
In 18 games with the Dodgers, Rojas has played 10 at short, seven at third and one at second base. He’s committed on error, which came in the first attempt he had June 6.
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