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Blackmon enlists Black for batting practice

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon said Giants lefty pitcher Matt Moore "mixes it up pretty well and throws a lot of strikes." To prepare for Saturday's clash with Moore, Blackmon took swings in the batting cage from a lefty who could mix pitches with control.

That pitcher is Rockies manager Bud Black.

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DENVER -- Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon said Giants lefty pitcher Matt Moore "mixes it up pretty well and throws a lot of strikes." To prepare for Saturday's clash with Moore, Blackmon took swings in the batting cage from a lefty who could mix pitches with control.

That pitcher is Rockies manager Bud Black.

View Full Game Coverage

The preparation worked well, as evidenced by Blackmon's performance in a 12-3 victory at Coors Field. Blackmon tripled in his first at-bat and launched a 421-foot homer to center field in his third at-bat against Moore. In between, he flied out solidly to deep center.

Turns out this wasn't a special assignment. Blackmon and Black retreat to the cage on a regular basis. Even if the starter is a righty, Blackmon wants to be ready for when the opponent goes to a lefty reliever.

"I just want to see some straight ones, and I always hit some sliders, too," said Blackmon, whose evening brought him to 7-for-31 (.226) with a double, two triples and a homer against lefty pitching this season.

Video: SF@COL: Blackmon drills triple down right-field line

Blackmon figures in the National League West he will see a lot of lefty pitchers. He began this last year, with advance scout Joe Little throwing to him. Black pitched in 398 games over 15 Major League seasons, but Blackmon pointed out there isn't a huge difference in batting practice. The key is becoming comfortable with the angle.

Black, of course, is up for anything that could help his club. Before Saturday's game, he visited the ticket windows to help sell seats. He put on a first baseman's mitt, which means he knows what it's like to catch third baseman Nolan Arenado's screaming throws.

In conversations with the front office before taking the Rockies' managerial job during the winter, Black learned that Blackmon is "highly focused, highly intent on what he wants to do each and every game to help us win." Before the first homestand, when the Rockies would face the Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw, Black didn't hesitate when Blackmon requested the BP. Now it's pretty much a daily date.

"If I am a small part of his daily routine, I'm in," said Black, who said a few players in the past requested his pitching services while he was the Angels' pitching coach and the Padres' manager.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Charlie Blackmon