Michael Cuddyer mostly batted fourth and fifth last year while hitting .331 and winning the National League batting title. And those are the spots in the lineup where Cuddyer most often has batted during his career that has included all or parts of 13 seasons.

But the Rockies right fielder is expected to begin the season batting second in manager Walt Weiss' lineup. Weiss played with the Rockies in the mid-1990s when center fielder Ellis Burks was a slugging force hitting second in power-laden lineups that also included the likes of Dante Bichette, Andres Galarraga, Larry Walker and Vinny Castilla.

In 1996, Burks hit .340 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs in 78 games batting second, and .351 with 19 homers and 54 RBIs hitting third. The following year, Burks hit .308 with 27 homers and 64 RBIs in 84 games batting second.

Weiss also played for Tony LaRussa, a manager who had a fondness for a No. 2 hitter capable, as LaRussa said, of "doing damage." Cuddyer, who also had 31 doubles, 20 homers and 81 RBIs last year, fits that definition.

Weiss said Cuddyer "uses the whole field and hits with power. He uses the whole field and is just a professional hitter that's dangerous. With the pieces we have or that we potentially have in our lineup, we can afford to move Cuddy up to that spot. You've got some power throughout."

Cuddyer has limited experience hitting second -- 38 at-bats in 12 games, eight starts, in which he has batted .263 with six RBIs. He has 1,665 career at-bats hitting fifth and 1,663 hitting fourth.

Last year, Cuddyer hit .338 in 266 at-bats in the fourth spot with nine homers and 46 RBIs and a .325 average in 210 at-bats hitting fifth with eight homers and 33 RBIs. He last hit second in 2012 for one at-bat.

Cuddyer, who turns 35 on March 27, is willing to move up to second where he would be followed by Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki -- Weiss could bat Tulowitzki ahead of Gonzalez -- Wilin Rosario, Justin Morneau, Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu. Rosario and Morneau could switch spots, depending on where Gonzalez and Tulowitzki hit to keep the alternating flow of left-right-left-right from third through sixth starting with Gonzalez or right-left-right-left in those same spots starting with Tulowitzki.

Regardless, Cuddyer sees advantages to a lineup where he hits second. "It would give us some dangerous hitters in the top and middle of the order," he said. "If we didn't have the depth in the order, obviously it wouldn't work."

Last season, the Rockies' No. 2 hitters ranked 13th in the NL in on-base percentage (.290), slugging percentage (.341) and OPS or on-base plus slugging percentage (.632).


--3B Nolan Arenado last year became the first National League rookie third baseman to win a Gold Glove. Offensively, Arenado, who made his major league debut April 28, made progress, hitting .298 after the All-Star break with a .323 on-base percentage and a .419 slugging percentage to finish the season at .267/.301/.405 with 10 homers and 52 RBIs.

Where Arenado has the greatest room for improvement is on the road where his .619 OPS lagged behind his home OPS of .793. In 242 at-bats at Coors Field, Arenado hit .298 with a .335 on-base percentage and .459 slugging percentage. On the road, Arenado hit .238 in 244 at-bats with a .267 on-base percentage and .352 slugging percentage.

"I'm always working on my defense," Arenado said. "But going into this offseason, the offense wasn't where I'd like it, so I started hitting a little bit earlier than usual.

"I want to be an impact hitter. ... I want people to be like, 'Arenado's coming up.' Yes, I want to help the team win but definitely want to be a guy that has an impact and helps the team, big-time."

According to FanGraphs, Arenado, who turns 23 on April 16, swung at pitches out of the strike zone 42.8 percent of the time, fifth-most in the major leagues. Arenado said, "I wasn't staying back enough. I was out front too much, and that's why I was swinging at everything. I definitely need to be more selective, more patient. I need to swing at my pitches."

--LHP Jorge De La Rosa is coming off a difficult winter. His mother, Juana, underwent surgery for cancer in November and seemed to be progressing but got sick again and died at the outset of February. De La Rosa has dedicated his 2014 season to her after a highly successful 2013. He went 16-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 starts, despite dealing with a painful bone bruise on his left thumb since mid-June. At Coors Field, De La Rosa went 10-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 14 starts.

De La Rosa, who turns 33 on April 5, had a two-year, $21.5 million contract that included an $11 million player option for 2014 that he exercised. De La Rosa was erratic and floundering before the Rockies acquired him from the Kansas City Royals on April 30, 2008. With Colorado, De La Rosa is 55-34 with a 4.23 ERA in 124 games, 118 starts, and last season he made a successful return from Tommy John surgery in June 2011. While entering the final year of his contract, De La Rosa is concerned with matters on the mound and not whether this might be his final season with the Rockies -- he hopes not -- and where he will be pitching in 2015.

"I don't really think too much about that," he said. "The only thing I have to do is pitch well. I don't know what's going to happen. I would like to stay here the rest of my career, but we'll see."

--CF Carlos Gonzalez opted not to have surgery after the season on his sprained right middle finger, an injury that originally occurred July 7 while taking a swing and one that flared up repeatedly and limited him to 37 at-bats after the All-Star break and none after Aug. 4. Surgery to repair the torn ligament in the finger would have cost Gonzalez some flexibility, so he rested the finger until December before swinging a bat and the finger, while still slightly swollen, no longer hurts Gonzalez when he swings.

Gonzalez has made an adjustment and instead of hitting with the knob of the bat resting against his right middle finger, he is moving his hands up on the bat, so that the bottom of his right hand sits on the knob.

"It was a change I needed to make," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez will not move to center field, despite the departure of Dexter Fowler. He will stay in left field where he has won a Gold Glove three of the past four years. Newly acquired Drew Stubbs is better in center field than either outfield corner. But Stubbs struggles against right-handed pitchers. Charlie Blackmon is a better defender than Corey Dickerson and can play center field.

--RHP Tyler Chatwood finished last season with soreness in his right elbow. When the inflammation and fluid build-up persisted at the outset of the offseason, Chatwood underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery to remove what he called "a pretty good-sized" bone chip.

Chatwood is fine, but the Rockies will ease him into Cactus League games, which start Friday. Chatwood began last season at Class AAA Colorado Springs. The Rockies recalled him on April 24, and in his first 14 starts, Chatwood went 7-3 with a 2.48 ERA. He missed all of August, having a start pushed back because of left hamstring tightness and then experienced elbow inflammation while preparing for a start and ending up on the disabled list. He returned on Sept. 1 and finished the season 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 20 starts, totaling 111 1/3 innings.