The sign appeared recently, plastered on the door to Rockies manager Walt Weiss' office at Coors Field. In bold white letters, it reads:

Adapt
Improvise
Overcome

It applies to Weiss' team, to the no-excuses culture. But it just as easily could be a synopsis of DJ LeMahieu's season. The Rockies' new starting second baseman didn't break camp with the club, a victim of the front office's fascination with utilityman Reid Brignac.

LeMahieu, 24, was disappointed, but he didn't vent or sulk. He went to Triple-A and batted .364 with a .405 on-base percentage, while playing shortstop every day to give the Rockies another option if Troy Tulowitzki's left leg betrayed him again.

The sands began to shift for LeMahieu two weeks ago, providing a path back to the big leagues. Brignac never gained the Rockies' trust at shortstop, became a liability at third base and was a luxury with Jonathan Herrera on the roster. He was traded to the Yankees.

Josh Rutledge, learning a new position, also was slumping defensively at second base — four errors since April 24 and issues with his footwork on double plays — where LeMahieu did his best work for the Rockies last year. Looking to provide Rutledge a wake-up call and a venue to improve out of the spotlight's glare, the Rockies optioned the promising 24-year-old to Triple-A on Wednesday, shoving LeMahieu into a significant role for Friday's game at San Francisco.

"I am excited to be part of this team. We are winning, and it's a lot more fun," LeMahieu said by phone Thursday. "At the same time, I'm not taking anything for granted. I see how quickly things can change."

The Rutledge move wasn't a shock, but the timing was. He hit .286 this month and was on pace for 18 homers and 18 stolen bases. It appeared he had about another week to get straightened out defensively. Had the Rockies been spiraling in the standings, he likely would have. But their surprising start has shaped several roster decisions, with winning the refreshing priority. LeMahieu's move follows promotions for Nolan Arenado and Tyler Chatwood, with pitcher Drew Pomeranz also pounding on the door in Triple-A.

With debate percolating about the best next step for Rutledge, LeMahieu cemented the decision by going 7-for-17 at the plate, including 4-for-8 in back-to-back starts at second base Tuesday and Wednesday.

"DJ has earned the chance," said assistant general manager Bill Geivett, when asked about the switch.