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Colorado Rockies infielder Brendan Rodgers stops in Spokane for rehab assignment with High-A Indians

Jul. 20—The players who pull on the uniform of the Spokane Indians on a nightly basis all have the same dream: to move their way up through the Colorado Rockies’ organization and someday make the roster of the major league team.

This week, the Indians have two temporary additions to their roster — infielder Brendan Rodgers and relief pitcher Tyler Kinley — who have made that journey into the major league clubhouse at Coors Field in Denver.

Rodgers and Kinley are in Spokane this week on major league rehab assignments as they return from injury and work their way back to the Rockies.

Rodgers, last year’s National League Gold Glove winner at second base, underwent shoulder surgery during spring training and Kinley is recovering from an elbow surgery a little over a year ago.

Both players were recently at the Rockies’ complex in Arizona working out, but Tuesday was the first time either player appeared in a game that counted since surgery.

“I knew it was gonna be a long road, but I had confidence in myself and the staff and to get me back on the field and playing — and now we’re here,” Rodgers said.

“I told myself, the goal was to shoot for August being back with the (Rockies) and it’s starting to line up like that. So, I just have to play smart play, be healthy and, you know, hopefully everything works out.”

Rodgers went 0 for 1 with a walk on Tuesday, but finally got his first base hit after an injury in Wednesday’s win.

“I only got a handful of at-bats (at the complex) prior to coming in here so getting that first real hit out of the way, it was definitely a good feeling,” he said.

Rodgers, 26, played five innings at second base on Tuesday and was the designated hitter on Wednesday, so he’s ramping up his activity. He was scheduled for seven innings in the field Thursday and hoped to play a full game by Sunday.

There was a touch of drama in Tuesday’s game as he was hit by a pitch in his third plate appearance. He left the game afterwards but escaped uninjured.

“It just barely nicked my elbow guard, luckily,” he said. “It was a lot better than it could have been.”

That incident aside, Rodgers isn’t too sore from jumping back into game play and his shoulder is responding to the rigors of a full swing.

“I feel confident,” he said. “I took some good swings. I’ve had some swing and misses — which is kind of, you know, a little check mark I have to pass. Am I able to take a big swing and miss, control the bat and have that strength? I took some aggressive swings (Wednesday) night and definitely felt good overall.”

The last hurdle for an athlete to get back on the field is fully trusting that the injury has healed.

“That’s the main thing, is just being confident in all the work that I’ve done,” Rodgers said. “Just going out there and trying not to think about it really.”

Rodgers, who was the third overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft, was fortunate that he did most of his recovery after surgery in Denver so he could be around his Rockies teammates and clubhouse and have access to the training facilities.

“Early in my rehab, I didn’t go on every road trip, but I did travel a little bit and then when baseball activity started ramping up, I got to travel with the team and be around the guys,” he said. “It definitely was easier being around the team and bonding instead of going home to Florida or Arizona and rehabbing all alone and getting pretty bored.”

Rodgers’ biggest goals out of his stint with Spokane is health and timing at the plate.

“I’m just really trying to get that timing down,” he said. “It’s not going to come back overnight. Just got to keep putting together good at-bats and I’m trying to be aggressive, but also, I want to see some pitches, see some spin and stay within myself — try not to chase as much and take some walks here and there.”

If all goes well this week, Rodgers will move on to an affiliate a little higher on the ladder to face pitchers closer to the big leagues.

This midsummer assignment is Rodgers’ first time in Spokane. When he played in High-A on his way up, the Rockies’ affiliate was in Lancaster of the California League. While Avista Stadium it isn’t quite Coors Field, he’s appreciating his time here.

“I do like the field, and they have a good group of guys here,” he said.

As is customary when a big leaguer goes out on a rehab assignment in the minors, Rodgers picked up the tab on a barbecue dinner for the team.

“I’ll probably get breakfast here on the day game (Sunday),” he said. “Get the guys some burritos or something.”

Rodgers didn’t know too many of his temporary teammates from spring training, but he did have some interaction with fellow infielders Sterlin Thompson and Ryan Ritter in March.

“There’s definitely some talent here and it’s fun to see these guys develop, and hopefully we’ll see them in the big leagues one day,” he said.