Will Blackmon, Lambert be ready for opener?

July 11th, 2020

DENVER -- There’s really only one thing that gives Rockies manager Bud Black pause at the moment regarding the readiness of his club to open the 2020 regular season at Texas on July 24 -- the status of four-time All-Star slugger , who is home in Georgia after beginning to feel unwell about three weeks ago.

Black expressed optimism Thursday that Blackmon would be ready when the season kicks off. He said he didn’t foresee ramping back up being an issue for Blackmon, who got a lot of reps in at Coors Field and was feeling healthy before he began feeling ill. But Black struck a somewhat different tone Friday.

“I’d like to think that the Charlie situation will get resolved fairly quickly, and we’re at the liberty of the Commissioner’s Office, I believe, on that one. But that’s the thing I’m most concerned about at this time, is Charlie and his timeframe to be ready,” Black said. “It sort of gives me a little pause as far as his potential situation on July 24.”

Major League Baseball has instituted a COVID-19 list this season, although clubs will not announce which players are placed on it due to privacy laws regarding individuals’ health. Players may address their status if they wish, though they are not required to do so. Merely being placed on an injured list without further explanation is not confirmation that a player has tested positive for COVID-19. For example, potential exposure to a person who has the virus can be sufficient cause.

Following a career year at the plate in 2017, in which he slashed .331/.399/.601 (141 OPS+) with 37 home runs, Blackmon has continued to put up solid numbers, though nothing approaching what he did in ’17. He’s hit .302/.361/.537 over the past two seasons, and has dealt with back and leg injuries that slowed him defensively in right field last year.

Lambert likely not on Opening Day roster

suffered a forearm strain during Spring Training in March, and while the 23-year-old right-hander has been progressing well since then, Black said he would likely be with the group remaining at the alternate training site to open the regular season.

“Where he is in his throwing progression is probably not going to make it realistic for him to be able to be on that July 24 roster,” Black said. “But he will get to the bullpen mound here soon, I think within the next few days, and start throwing with intensity. And we’ll see whether he’ll be able to throw a couple of innings here in an intrasquad game, but I think for us, we’re going to probably hold Peter back off that initial roster and keep him with the satellite group to build his stamina and get him back into form.”

Lambert made his Major League debut last season for the Rockies, starting 19 games and posting a 7.25 ERA.

Cooling off

The Rockies held an evening workout under the lights at Coors Field on Friday night, and Black said it was for multiple reasons.

“It’s been really hot here of late in Denver,” Black said, referring to near triple-digit heat in the region. “I think primarily a couple things -- the body clock for a player is centered around working at night since most games start at night, both home and road. I think getting guys acclimated to that as quick as possible is advantageous for us. And again, you do beat the heat, and the quality of work when it’s a little cooler I think helps players in their daily work.”