Will career year give McBride a Rockie mountain high?

The versatility that Matt McBride hopes him in a Major League uniform in the not-to-distant future kept him on the bench for most of the Triple-A All-Star game.

Since the Liberty High grad was drafted out of Lehigh University as a catcher, Pacific Coast League manager Marty Brown approached him prior to the game at Buffalo's Coca-Cola Field 10 days ago and asked if he'd mind being held in reserve.

"Do you mind if I hold off putting you in, just in case I need another catcher?" Brown asked McBride, who was added to the all-star roster when Colorado Springs teammate Andrew Brown pulled out to spend the time with his wife and newborn son.

When he finally got his chance, he jumped on the first pitch he saw as an eighth-inning pinch-hitter and ripped a triple.

"It was frustrating," McBride said last week with a laugh, "but that's life."

Life has been good to McBride this season. In his first full season with Colorado after being part of the package in last year's deadline-day trade that brought pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland, the 27-year-old received his first Major League spring training invite, opened the season on a Triple-A roster for the first time and earned his second career all-star berth with a career year that has him hitting .353 with a little over a month to go in the season.

"A lot of things are going right for me right now," McBride, a career .282 hitter coming into the season, said last week.

After going 1-for-5 in his first two games, McBride went 3-for-4 in his third, and his average hasn't been below .325 since. He hasn't gone more than two games without a hit all season, and he took a 13-game hit streak into Saturday's game against Tacoma, hitting .397 (23-for-58) during the streak.

"I've done a few little things different, nothing drastic, things that help me keep the bat in the zone a little longer," McBride said. "Basically, I just try to go to the park every day, stay in my routine and stay focused."

His attitude and intensity has won over Sky Sox manager Stu Cole.

"He's a hard worker; he works hard during [batting practice], works hard during the early work, and he has tremendous work ethic, and I think that's what's going to get him over the top," Cole told Ian McCue of the Colorado Springs Gazette last month. "He loves to play the game, and he has fun doing it, and if he makes a mistake he wants to learn how to improve and get better at it."

McBride was Cleveland's second-round pick in 2006, the first college catcher taken that year. But his full-time catching days came to an end when he underwent shoulder surgery in 2007.

As an outfielder/first baseman, McBride reached Triple-A with Columbus in 2010 and again last season. But eight days after sending McBride back to Double-A in late July last season, the Indians packaged him with minor league pitchers Drew Pomeranz, Alex White — a pair of former first-rounders and the keys to the deal for Colorado — and Joe Gardner for Jimenez.

However, a pulled oblique injury limited McBride to only six games with Double-A Tulsa the rest of the season.

"That was really frustrating, especially as a new guy in a new organization; I wanted to make an impression," McBride said.

The Rockies knew what they had, however. McBride had caught just nine games in the three seasons since his surgery, but Colorado told him to work on his catching and brought him into camp as a non-roster invitee. He spent most of the spring in big league camp exclusively as a catcher.

"I didn't play at first or in the outfield at all in the spring, and I was excited about that," said McBride, who was 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout in three spring games. "I think what they wanted was to see me behind the plate, and I think I showed I could handle it.

At Colorado Springs, McBride hit safely in six of his first seven starts and was hitting .400 after the season's first eight games. Most of his playing time has come at first and in right, but he's also played left and has started eight games behind the plate.

"I feel good, my shoulder feels good, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to get back there and catch more than I have," McBride said. "One big thing about being in the National League is having that half-catcher role; that can only help me."

McBride was basically considered a filler in the Jimenez deal, but so far he's been the most productive of the four prospects the Rockies got back in the deal. Both Pomeranz or White have shuffled back and forth between Denver and Colorado Springs, although Pomeranz is beginning to show his potential during this latest stint with the Rockies.

Gardner has struggled at Double-A Tulsa this season.

"When the deal was made, he wasn't one of the sexier names mentioned," Jeff Bridich, the Rockies' director of player development, told The Denver Post in May. "But he's given us nothing but quality play and he's a very good worker."

The capper on McBride's season would be his first Major League call-up, and Denver Post columnist Woody Paige included that as part of his blueprint for the rest of the season for the struggling franchise.

"I hadn't read that, and that'd be great. But if you start focusing on that stuff, it's going to hurt you," said McBride, who is eligible to a minor league free agent after the season. "I like the situation I'm in with the Rockies, but the only thing you can worry about is going out and playing hard; the rest will take care of itself."

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