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Pacheco Dresses Up His Game

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On the field, Jordan Pacheco looked every bit the big-leaguer.

Playing with the Colorado Rockies during Major League Weekend at Isotopes Park, Pacheco did more than hold his own.

The Albuquerque native went 2-for-3 and drew a walk in four plate appearances. He also played three flawless innings at catcher, throwing out the only Seattle Mariners runner to attempt to steal against him.

"Jordan represented himself better than well," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

Unfortunately, things weren't quite as seamless in the locker room. Apparently Pacheco still has plenty to learn about Major League dress codes.

After Saturday's game, while other Rockies decked out in suits for their charter plane ride out of Albuquerque, Pacheco sported jeans and a royal blue shirt.

"I guess he didn't get the memo," Tracy said. "Him not wearing slacks was the one thing I didn't like this weekend."

Tracy's jab came at the end of a string of glowing comments about Pacheco, an Albuquerque native and former La Cueva High and UNM standout. It seems even an experienced major league manager can still be wowed by a prospect at times.

Granted, Pacheco's brief professional career has been far from typical. Just a year after being named Mountain West Conference Player of the Year as a second baseman and drafted by the Rockies in the ninth round, Pacheco was asked to move to catcher.

The request wasn't exactly what Pacheco wanted to hear.

"Mostly because I'd never played catcher," he said. "Growing up I was always an infielder or a pitcher."

Even Tracy conceded that adapting to such a specialized position as catcher at the professional level is rare and exceedingly difficult.

"When I first heard about him moving to catcher, I didn't really know about the process," Tracy said. "But I'm feeling pretty good about it now. I'm feeling like the transition could go a lot faster than people thought."

Pacheco has gradually climbed on board.

"When you start playing baseball as a little kid, you always dream about being in the big leagues," he said. "Then, when you actually get drafted, you dream about getting to the big leagues and helping your club as fast as possible.

"I never saw myself as a catcher, but if that's my best, fastest path, so be it. I'll try to keep improving and do whatever the Rockies want me to do."

Pacheco's path will continue in high Single-A with the California League's Modesto Nuts. He split time between catcher and designated hitter at Single-A Asheville last season, but will see more time behind the plate in 2010.

Tracy believes Pacheco can flourish at Modesto, working under Nuts manager Jerry Weinstein, who has 40 years of professional and collegiate coaching experience. Tracy said Pacheco's soft hands and intelligence have already aided his transition to catcher.

"He listens," Tracy said, "and he'll be able to pick up a lot from Jerry Weinstein."

Tracy also believes Pacheco has a skill that will hasten his climb up the organizational ladder.

"The kid can swing the bat," Tracy said, "and he can handle the bat, not just swing it."

Such was apparent over the weekend as Pacheco hit line-drive singles to left and right fields. He also drew a walk during Saturday's game and looked entirely comfortable in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd.

Pacheco was all smiles as he headed back to the Rockies clubhouse, though he was hustled onto the bus without a chance to discuss his first Major League Weekend. Tracy is confident it won't be Pacheco's last.

"I really believe if he stays on the path he's on right now, he's a big-leaguer," Tracy said.

If so, Pacheco will have to learn to dress like one.

"Tell him to spend his meal money and buy some slacks," Tracy said with a smile.

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