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Nolan Arenado says Rockies can 'do something special'

By Alex Butler
Nolan Arenado says Rockies can 'do something special'
Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado finished third in MVP voting in 2018. He signed an eight-year contract extension in February. File Photo by Trask Smith/UPI | License Photo

MIAMI, March 28 (UPI) -- At 27 years old, Nolan Arenado doesn't appear abnormal.

He doesn't carry himself like the savior of a franchise or look weighed down by the $260 million headed to his bank account. He isn't sporting slick suits and posting about luxury cars or exotic vacations on social media.

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Arenado is in love with the game of baseball.

Most photos you see of him in cyberspace are baseball related because Arenado isn't present on any social media platforms. And while the third baseman isn't necessarily the type to guarantee anything, he is quite optimistic about the Colorado Rockies' chances to take the National League West throne in 2019.

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The four-time All-Star led the National League in home runs in three of the last four seasons. He helped the Rockies earn their second-highest win total in franchise history in 2018.

After watching Paul Goldschmidt abandon the division and Manny Machado and other stars bolt from the Los Angeles Dodgers, it's not crazy to think the Rockies are on-deck to snatch the NL West title for the first time in franchise history.

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"We feel good about our team," said Arenado, who went 1-for-5 with a run scored in the Rockies' opening day win against the Marlins on Thursday in Miami.

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"Obviously winning the division, we understand that it's there and we can do something special, but the four other teams think the same thing. We gotta focus on today and take it one game at a time."

Arenado finished third in the National League MVP race, helping the Rockies to a 91-72 mark last season. The 91 wins were the most for the Rockies since the 2009 squad won 92 games. Both of those teams lost in the divisional round.

Last year's 3-0 postseason sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers afforded Arenado and his teammates an opportunity for reflection.

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"We weren't as good as we could have been or should have been," Arenado said. "Late in those games we have to find a way to battle, especially when you are down. You have to find a way to get a rally going or something."

"I felt like if we were struggling ... If we had a lead, we lost the lead. This year we really need to focus on having those quality at bats later in games and putting some pressure on the pitchers."

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Colorado opened the 2018 season with two consecutive losses, but picked it up with a very hot July (17-6) and September (19-9). While the franchise didn't make a lot of moves this off-season, they were able to keep the core together and Arenado is in position to lead the Rockies for a long time.

Colorado gave the star infielder an eight-year extension and handed a three-year extension to manager Bud Black in February. The Rockies also brought in former National League Championship Series MVP Daniel Murphy in December.

Three-time All-Star and 2017 National League batting champion Charlie Blackmon signed a six-year extension in April 2018. That cluster of offensive talent threatens to torment NL West pitching staffs for years to come.

While the Dodgers once again started hot, hitting a Major League Baseball record eight opening day home runs in a win Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arenado's Rockies roll game-by-game. They are taking the methodical approach, hoping to unseat a team that has won the division for six consecutive seasons.

Colorado looks to move to 2-0 in 2018 with another game against the Marlins at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Marlins Park.

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