Nelson returns to Colorado as member of Yankees

Pardon Chris Nelson if he takes a wrong turn inside the concrete

hallways of Coors Field, heading straight toward the home clubhouse

instead of veering left with his new team.

Hey, old routines are hard to break.

The New York Yankees infielder was a member of the Colorado

Rockies until nine days ago, when he was designated for assignment

to make room for prized prospect Nolan Arenado. Nelson was later

traded to the Yankees for a player to be named or cash.

No hurt feelings, though. The player nicknamed ”Nellie”

understands the situation.

He’s looking forward to his return as the Rockies welcome in the

Yankees – and their fleet of fans – for a three-game series

starting Tuesday night. All of Nelson’s belongings are still in the

Mile High City.

A lot of his friends, too.

”I enjoyed my time in Colorado,” Nelson said. ”My teammates.

Great fans. The mountain view is beautiful. Just a nice

place.”

As he makes himself at home with the Yankees, Nelson also is

searching for a new place to live. He’s been living out of a

suitcase until a real estate agent can find him something more

permanent. The former first-round pick of the Rockies was caught

off guard by the move, calling it ”very surprising.”

He’s quickly adapting, though, because there’s no other

choice.

A solid contact hitter with the Rockies, Nelson is still looking

for his first hit after going 0-for-7 to begin his career in the

famed New York pinstripes. This could be as good of place as any to

break out of his mini-slump, considering he’s a lifetime .316

hitter at Coors Field.

His buddies turned rivals – at least for the next few days – are

delighted that Nelson landed with the Yankees. After all, ”that

was always a team that he loved,” outfielder Dexter Fowler

said.

Nelson’s not alone in his childhood fondness for the Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers were also a favorite of first-year manager Walt

Weiss, who grew up about 30 miles from Yankees Stadium. His dad

loved the Yankees, so naturally he did as well.

”I think it’s always a pretty cool atmosphere when the Yankees

are in town,” Weiss said.

Like Nelson, Weiss will have some catching up to do. He and

Yankees manager Joe Girardi were teammates in Colorado for two

seasons in the mid-1990s.

”It’s been a little while, but it will be good to look across

there and see Joe,” Weiss said. ”He’s handled himself real well

in that situation.”

The last time the Yankees were in town was 2007, with the

Rockies sweeping the three-game series. The Yankees will certainly

have plenty of support – they always do, no matter where they go.

The three contests are close to sellouts, with a good portion

showing up decked out in New York garb.

”They’re the Yankees and they’ll always be the Yankees and

there is an aura that goes along with that,” Weiss said. ”That’s

OK. We’ll have a lot of purple pinstripes, too.”

These days, the Yankees are missing some of their star power,

with Alex Rodriguez (hip) and Derek Jeter (ankle) not expected back

until after All-Star break.

That’s a little bit of a letdown for Rockies infielder Jordan

Pacheco, who was hoping to meet Jeter. Pacheco grew up in New

Mexico and really didn’t follow a particular team, so much as

individual players. His favorites were Chipper Jones and Jeter.

”But there’s plenty of other guys on the Yankees (I can

meet),” Pacheco said. ”I’m glad I’ll get to see Chris Nelson. It

will be good seeing him again.”

Although the Yankees have been slowed by injuries, they’re still

hovering around first place in the AL East. That’s hardly a

surprise to Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, whose team took two of

three from the Rockies over the weekend.

”They (Yankees) pitch well. They pitch really well. That’s one

thing they don’t get enough credit for,” Maddon said. ”Their

starters are good. Their bullpen is very good, so that’s one

thing.

”I know they’re missing their big names, but they’ve got very

competent people in their stead. … You’re going to see something

different. You’re not going to see the normal marquee names, but

don’t be lulled into the sense that they can’t hit because the

names aren’t big enough. They can still hit but their pitching is

real good.”

Hiroki Kuroda (4-1) will be on the mound for the Yankees on

Tuesday, while the Rockies counter with Jorge De La Rosa (2-3). The

lefty is 2-0 as a starter against New York in his career and hasn’t

allowed a run in more than 11 innings.

”It’s going to be exciting to see (the Yankees) come into Coors

Field,” Fowler said. ”They’re a team with a lot of history.”

Nelson is returning to a team he has a lot of history with. The

ninth overall pick in the 2004 amateur draft, Nelson got off to a

slow start this season, hitting just .242. He was deemed expendable

once Arenado was ready.

”It was a surprise, but what can you do?” Nelson said. ”It’s

been crazy, but you’ve got to settle down.”

AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York and AP freelancer

Dennis Georgatos contributed.

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