LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies can't keep leadoff man and center fielder Charlie Blackmon out of the lineup, even when they try.After going 2-for-4 with a double as the Rockies managed just three hits in a 5-0 loss to the Dodgers on Friday night, Blackmon has a .308 batting average
LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies can't keep leadoff man and center fielder Charlie Blackmon out of the lineup, even when they try.
After going 2-for-4 with a double as the Rockies managed just three hits in a 5-0 loss to the Dodgers on Friday night, Blackmon has a .308 batting average and an .887 OPS overall. He has spent the season just behind the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter in OPS among National League leadoff hitters.
Since returning from a 13-game absence with left turf toe, Blackmon has played in all 57 games -- including Friday, as he celebrated his 30th birthday against the Dodgers in the opener of a three-game set -- and started all but two. He's done more than just show up for work.
"He was just National League Player of the Week [last week after homering in five of seven games], so he's playing very well," manager Walt Weiss said. "I try to stay in tune with all our players as it relates to fatigue. He's been very durable for us."
Weiss tried going without Blackmon Tuesday against the Blue Jays at home, but Ryan Raburn suffered a pregame stomach illness and Blackmon found himself starting.
Blackmon entered Friday night's game against the Dodgers with a .305 batting average and, according to Stats LLC, his .885 OPS from the No. 1 spot was tied for second among National League leadoff men. The Cardinals' Matt Carpenter has a 1.013 leadoff OPS. The Pirates' Jordy Mercer is tied with Blackmon, but has far fewer plate appearances.
Despite the stats, Blackmon was 13th among outfielders in NL All-Star fan voting, according to the most recent update. However, Blackmon is a candidate for the team because players and NL manager Terry Collins of the Mets are part of the process for reserves and pitchers.
Blackmon spent much of his early career on the disabled list. He lasted just one month in 2011, his break-in season, because of a broken left foot. He began 2012 on the DL with left turf toe and didn't get to the Majors until August. A right knee infection forced him to begin 2013 in the Minors. But he appeared in 154 games, and was an All-Star in 2014, and made 157 appearances last year -- impressive numbers, given the spaciousness of Coors Field's outfield and the frequency of long, high-scoring games.
"There are definitely times I'm like, 'Man, I'm tired; it would be nice to not play today,'" Blackmon said. "But I really appreciate the fact that I've been able to stay healthy, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to play consistently and play well enough that I'm in the lineup."
The performance has been consistent. He had an 0-for-14 blip in mid-June. But in his last 11 games, which included a 3-for-5 performance in Miami in the skid-ending game, Blackmon has gone 20-for-49 (.408) with a .473 OBP, five homers and 12 RBIs. So his offensive numbers never screamed that he needed rest.
"When I get really tired, I hit a seven-hopper through the hole," said Blackmon, who entered Friday with seven infield hits, even though he is not seen as a bunt threat. "So you don't really notice."
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**.