Fuentes embracing battle for everyday 1B job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Josh Fuentes’ quest to make sure he is remembered — after making a name for himself just a few months ago — started positively Sunday morning. He was in the lineup for the Cactus League opener against the D-backs at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Last year, Fuentes took the Rockies’ first base job, batted .306 and compiled eight Defensive Runs Saved in just 196 1/3 innings — tops among 36 Major League first basemen with at least 190 innings, per Fangraphs. He became known for more than just being the cousin to superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado.

But Arenado is gone and Fuentes, 28, feared he would be forgotten when the Rockies signed C.J. Cron and Greg Bird to Minor League contracts. Both, but especially Cron, have displayed power in their Major League careers. Fuentes, however, hasn’t had that chance.

While Cron, who has season home run totals of 30 (2018, Rays) and 25 (2019, Twins), was in Sunday’s lineup as the designated hitter, Fuentes has earned a look in 2021, and he made an early impression with two singles during the Rockies’ 5-2 win over the D-backs.

It took a while. After signing as an undrafted free agent out of Missouri Baptist University in 2014 and earning the 2018 Most Valuable Player Award in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, Fuentes has appeared in 54 big league games over the last two seasons.

“It’s a…

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