Wheeler powers up in Rockies' romp

Mets' Flores, d'Arnaud go yard; A's Burns nabs 10th stolen base

Tim Wheeler has four spring homers after hitting five in 109 Triple-A games last season. (Jason Wise/MLB.com)

By MiLB.com Staff | March 22, 2014 9:33 PM ET

With Spring Training entering its final week, Tim Wheeler is making sure to leave a lasting impression on the Rockies. The 26-year-old outfielder went 3-for-3 with a three-run homer and two runs scored in Colorado's most prolific effort of the Cactus League season.

"It is good for [the Rockies] to see that and know they can depend on me at some point, but I wasn't pressing at all to make that happen," Wheeler told MLB.com. "There are not a lot of positives that come from pressing but definitely negatives. Once you realize that, it's a little bit liberating."

Wheeler has four homers in 22 spring games, a sign that the power he showed early in his Minor League career might be back. The Cal State-Sacramento product hit 45 bombs in his first two seasons but went yard only seven times in the past two years after a hand injury sidelined him for two months in 2012.

"There was no real pain after it was fixed, but there's a period of time where you're building strength and bat speed, and I probably had a problem trying to create it," he told MLB.com. "It's kind of a subconscious thing. It wasn't like I said, 'I'm going to go up and hit a homer.' You know it's there, but when you're trying to create it, it usually goes in the other direction."

In his last two games, Wheeler has five hits, including a pair of homers, and four RBIs.

Beck's strong start: In his second career spring start, Chris Beck held the Padres to a run on five hits over five innings as the White Sox battled to a 3-3 tie. The 23-year-old right-hander, who won 13 games across two levels last season, issued a walk while striking out five.

Burns speeds past M's: Billy Burns stole his Major League-leading 10th base and added his first triple of the spring in the A's 6-5 win over the Mariners. From the top of the lineup, the 24-year-old outfielder also contributed a single and a walk to raise his Cactus League average to .300.

Early Games

If Wilmer Flores is indeed locked in a position battle at shortstop with Ruben Tejada, it makes sense that he'd answer Tejada's big day with one of his own.

Two days after Tejada went 3-for-3 against the Braves, Flores went 3-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored in the Mets' 10-2 win over a split Marlins squad on Saturday.

The performance marked just the second multi-hit performance in 13 Spring Training games for Flores, who entered the day with a .194 average in Grapefruit League play.

The 22-year-old infielder connected on his first home run -- and his first extra-base hit -- of the spring when he belted a three-run shot off Brad Hand that gave the Mets a 5-0 lead in the fourth inning. He added another RBI on a single in the sixth and came around to score on a single by Mets starter Bartolo Colon. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

Flores bumped up his spring average to .244 to go with the homer and five RBIs. By comparison, Tejada, who did not play Saturday, is batting .226 with three doubles and an RBI in 11 games.

The tie-breaker between the two might be defense. Although he hasn't made any errors at short yet this spring campaign, Flores, who played second base for Triple-A Las Vegas last year and third with the Mets, doesn't quite have the range of Tejada at the premium defensive position that is short, and that could be his downfall come Opening Day.

Flores wasn't the only Mets farmhand to turn on the power Saturday. Top prospect Travis d'Arnaud opened the scoring with a two-run homer -- his first of the spring -- off Hand in the second inning. The catcher, who is already penciled in as the Opening Day starter, finished 1-for-4 with a strikeout. The roundtripper was the first hit since March 7 for the 25-year-old, who is batting .139 in Florida.

Marisnick at it again: Jake Marisnick continues to push the issue when it comes to the Marlins' outfield situation. MLB.com's No. 65 prospect went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run scored from the top of Miami's lineup in a 6-5 loss to the Nationals. He is 14-for-28 since March 10 and is batting .436 for the entire spring.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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