Blackmon offers leadership amid slow start

April 21st, 2021

DENVER -- Rockies teammates look to outfielder , even if they have to look past the .191 batting average he carried into Tuesday night’s game against the Astros. Such is the respect for a player who has been in Purple Pinstripes since 2011.

So Blackmon is trying to let them see a player who not only is working past his timing issues but also there to help a team that, regardless how Tuesday went, would go to bed with the Majors’ worst record.

“It’s tougher to have that conversation with your teammates when you, yourself, are struggling,” Blackmon said. “It becomes easier when you're playing really well to help somebody else out. But I've struggled a bit at times in my career, and I know that's a part of the game. The one thing you need to learn in this game is how to deal with failure. I’ve had lots of failure, so I’ve dealt with it quite a bit, so I don’t feel as bad about it as when I was younger.”

The message is as simple as sticking to a sound process.

Less-experienced teammates are getting a close look at an accomplished player believing he is doing things right, even if the stat sheet looks all wrong.

“I feel like my swing is fine,” Blackmon said. “I’m doing a pretty good job with swinging at the right pitches for the most part. All those things I generally concern myself with, all my processes aren’t bad. I don’t think it’s necessarily translated into having success in the box yet, but I think it will.”

The difference between hot and not is seemingly slight.

“Nobody’s more prepared to play baseball than Charlie Blackmon, in all of baseball,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “The only thing is, usually when a player is maybe not off to a start he wants or during a segment of the season when he’s not swinging well, the natural tendency is to be more aggressive -- to hit your way out.

“With that comes more first-pitch swings, more swings out of the strike zone because you’re being overly aggressive. That’s maybe a little bit what’s happening with Charlie. A lot of good hitters, their philosophy is, ‘I’m going to hit my way out of it. I’m going to be aggressive.’”

The weekend series against the Mets might be a sign Blackmon is finding his level. He went 3-for-8 with a double and an RBI. There was one chance he didn’t have. With two down in the ninth on Sunday, Trevor Story tried to steal his way into scoring position with Blackmon up, only to be thrown out to end the 2-1 Rockies loss.

“I’ve seen signs,” Black said. “Charlie is not striking out. The walk rate is maybe not his norm, but I think, knowing Charlie like I do, he’s being a tad over-aggressive, but he’s an aggressive hitter to start with, and I like that.”

As Blackmon finds his way, he’s speaking with reason.

“They all count,” Blackmon said. “I’m not saying it doesn’t matter that we’re off to a bad start. Bit it’s so early that it’s definitely something we can overcome. But saying, ‘Oh my gosh, we can’t do this or that because of our record,’ I don’t think that helps you at any point of the season, so I don’t really have that in my playbook.”

The next step for McMahon
Infielder Ryan McMahon has clearly built a solid swing that could lead to consistency. But he’s not a finished product.

“Improvement in the everyday grind and the everyday critical at-bats, I’ve noticed improvement there, and he’ll get better,” Black said. “His overall growth has been at a nice, incremental pace that’s pretty standard for players with a couple years of service time.”