Angels prospect Chris Nelson bumped between teams, but not giving up the major league dream
JACK DEMPSEY, AP
Chris Nelson spent most of the 2013 season thus far playing a sort of musical chairs.
Well, more like musical teams.
Nelson played in Denver, New York, Los Angeles and now Salt Lake all before even the halfway point in the Major League Baseball season.
“It's been a lot, as far as moving my family from Denver to New York to California,” Nelson said.
But if he has anything to say about it, Nelson's not done moving yet. He's determined to make it back into the major league, which if all goes well means he'd be moving his family back to Los Angeles before the season's up. His ambitions echo those of the guys on the field with him each night.
“Everybody wants to be a big league player, so that's just the goal of the team and myself,” Nelson explained.
Nelson's whirlwind season started out bright when he won the position battle for starting third baseman for the Colorado Rockies during a preseason camp. He made 19 starts for the Rockies while batting .242 with four RBIs among 19 strikeouts. Nelson was designated for assignment on April 28 when Colorado called up Nolan Arenado. Following Nelson's DFA, the New York Yankees traded for the talented third baseman and brought him to New York.
At the time, the Yankee's infield was depleted by injuries and they picked up Nelson to play third base. The stint didn't last long, however. Nelson played 10 games for New York before being put on waivers. After that, the Angels signed him and following seven major league games sent him to their Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees.
Long story short, Nelson has seen his fair share of promotions and demotions in the past month and is ready to move on.
“It's exciting (to be in Salt Lake),” Nelson said. “I'm happy to be playing baseball again. I was designated not too long ago and I'm just happy to be back on the field.”
Since coming to the Bees on June 13, Nelson racked up two homers, four RBIs and five hits in 15 at-bats. These numbers are certainly closer to his batting average of .301 he held last year during 111 games for the Colorado Rockies, and with each improvement he steps closer to achieving the major league dream.
“Even at the plate you can see what he brings to the table,” Bees manager Keith Johnson said. “As soon as he gets to about that 40 or 50 at-bat mark, things are really going to start to take off for him.”
Nelson admitted he knows his own weaknesses and focuses on making improvements with each practice and game. He said he wants to improve his power behind the bat which in turn will bump up his slugging percentage. In the four games he played for the Bees, this average of batting power is at .650, which is the highest on the current roster.
Along with his batting, he added a few more aspects of his game that he must improve in order to solidify a spot with the Angels.
“Good defense, hard work and good hitting — you'll get your time,” Nelson said.
Despite being designated for assignment several times this season, Nelson said he was never discouraged. He knows he is a versatile player that can be utilized in several positions, and his work ethic alone brings him closer to the majors every day.
Yankee short stop Jayson Nix complimented Nelson after the third baseman's brief time in New York was up. Nix said Nelson is a talented player and had every confidence that he would be back in the majors again.
“Chris can be a good player,” Nix told the New York Times. “I wanted him to know that if he continues to work hard and have a good attitude, he will be back in the big leagues.”
But Nix's prediction and Nelson's goal rely on the 27-year-old's ability to perform in minor league play.
“My take on everything — you never know who's watching,” Nelson said. “Play the game hard, play the game the right way and it'll work itself out.”
For Nelson, the key to success is to play like nobody's watching.
Whitney O'Bannon is a new media sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow on Twitter at @whitney_oban.
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