Story leads off, Blackmon bats 2nd for Rockies

August 29th, 2019

DENVER -- Rockies manager Bud Black continued the experiment with right fielder batting second in the order Wednesday night, with shortstop starting in the leadoff position for the third time in his career.

Story reached base three times in the Rockies' 7-4 loss to the Red Sox, going 2-for-4 with a walk, on what proved to be a frustrating night for Blackmon.

With the team falling out of contention, Black decided to bat Blackmon, who has made 108 starts at leadoff, No. 2 behind on Friday night in St. Louis. That happened to be the night Tapia suffered a left hand contusion that landed him on the injured list.

Story entered Wednesday slashing .297/.361/.559 with 28 home runs. Unlike Tapia, whose batting average and on-base skills were improving enough to get a look at leadoff, Story provides power the way Blackmon (27 homers) does.

Story also has a power-speed component the Rockies have lacked atop the order since Blackmon stole 43 bases in 2015 -- his age-28 season. Story entered Wednesday needing one steal to become the second player in club history with consecutive 20/20 (homer/steals) in a season (Carlos Gonzalez did it four straight, 2010-13). Story would be third to do it twice with the Rockies (Dante Bichette in 1994 and '96).

"We like a lot of the same things we liked about Charlie," Black said. "I told this to 'Trev' today: You step into the box in my era and there's Paul Molitor, there's Rickey Henderson, it can be 1-0 real quick.

"His on-base percentage, the quality of his at-bats from two years ago to last year to this year are improving. There's some plate discipline improvement he's shown over the last couple of years. The walks are up. His walk rate to Charlie's, they're comparable. And Trevor's base-stealing ability, that puts the pitcher-catcher in a little different spot."

Story is willing to see where batting leadoff takes him.

"It's a little new, for sure," he said. "I've done it a few times. I don't hate it. I don't feel one way or the other about it. We'll see. If it's better for the team, I'm all for it.

"I'm definitely not going to change anything about my approach or aggressiveness. I'm really treating it the same."

Some of it is experimentation to be more competitive for the rest of the season, since less-experienced players are receiving playing time lower in the order. But it's also possible next season that Blackmon could hit No. 2 regularly, or be a flexible piece in the top two spots.

In 2018, the Rockies experimented with DJ LeMahieu at leadoff and Blackmon second. Blackmon posted matching .291 batting averages hitting first (95 games) and second (49 games) and didn't have huge differences with on-base or slugging percentages.

"With Charlie batting 2, there's the traditional thing -- guys holding [Story] on, he has a bigger hole, which helps his ability to pull the ball with certain pitches," Black said. "Charlie might get more fastballs with 'Trev' on base with the threat to steal. All the traditional baseball theories come into play.

"We'll see. And both guys are good with it."

One doesn't have to go back far for the last time Story hit leadoff. With Blackmon out with back soreness, Story went 1-for-5 during a 3-2 loss at Cincinnati on July 28.

Welker leads Fall League participants
Corner infielder Colton Welker, the Rockies' No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will be among the players representing the organization with the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. Welker entered Wednesday batting .254 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs at Hartford in his first Double-A season.

Also joining the Rafters will be first baseman Roberto Ramos (No. 28 prospect), hitting .315 with 28 home runs and 101 RBIs at Triple-A Albuquerque; infielder Bret Boswell, hitting .218 at Hartford; catcher Brian Serven, hitting .197 at Hartford; right-hander Ashton Goudeau, 3-3 with a 2.24 ERA and 86 strikeouts to 12 walks in 72 1/3 innings over 15 starts at Hartford; and right-hander Alexander Guillen, 2-2 with a 1.59 ERA and 87 strikeouts against 21 walks in 73 2/3 relief innings at Hartford. The Rockies have two more pitching slots available.

Roster move
Righty Rico Garcia, who gave up six runs in five innings of his Major League debut Monday, a 10-6 loss to the Red Sox, was optioned back to Triple-A Albuquerque. Lefty was recalled.