SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Bud Black said the team prefers that longtime center fielder Charlie Blackmon move to right field, rather than left.The club wanted Blackmon, 32, out of center field to preserve his health. Blackmon has more experience in right, 131 games, than left, 93. The idea has
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Bud Black said the team prefers that longtime center fielder Charlie Blackmon move to right field, rather than left.
The club wanted Blackmon, 32, out of center field to preserve his health. Blackmon has more experience in right, 131 games, than left, 93. The idea has been up for conjecture ever since the Rockies announced the plan to move Blackmon out of center. But Black outlined the official game plan on Monday, the first day of full-squad workouts.
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In many parks, the place to move an older outfielder is left field, where the throws are often not as demanding, but Blackmon throws accurately. And the size of left at Coors Field -- 347 in the corner, angling to a max of 390 in left-center -- could be better suited for the younger legs of David Dahl, who turns 25 years old on April 1.
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In addition to shifting Blackmon, the Rockies are replacing their longtime right fielder, Carlos González, who is a free agent.
"In our park, I like right for Charlie," Black said. "Making this change, he's probably more comfortable in right. He played more right in the Minors. David might have a little bit more range in left. Left field needs range in our park. We went through it a little bit, and those are some of the things we're thinking."
"Charlie's fine -- way on board," Black said.
Blackmon said that he worked to improve his arm, which is how he can impact the game the most.
"The right-field arm is probably more important than the center-field arm, especially in Coors Field," Blackmon said. "The center fielder is so far from the infield, it's hard to throw guys out. It'll come into play a lot more in right field. I'm aware of that, so I'm gonna try to throw real good."
In 2016 and 2018 (he missed '17 because of injury) Dahl has made 88 appearances and 77 starts in left, 34 games and 24 starts in right and 14 games and 10 starts in center. He realizes covering the ground will be a challenge.
Dahl's most striking defensive highlight came in left. The outfielder flipped over the fence to catch a ball in foul ground at Dodger Stadium during the Rockies' 6-0 loss in the National League West tiebreaker last Oct. 1.
"It's pretty tough in left -- the ball comes off the bat a little different, especially at Coors, where the ball carries," said Dahl. "You have to take good angles. … You just have to get some work in out there and get some work in during BP and drills and everything."
Are other parks tough, too?
"Yeah, I'd say left field is probably the toughest outfield spot out of all three, for me at least."
After the Rockies traded their previous center fielder, Dexter Fowler, after the 2013 season, Blackmon shifted around the outfield in '14 -- appearing in 73 games in right, 69 in center and 22 in left. In 2015, he played 157 games, 147 in center, shifting around at times to appear in 14 games in left and seven in right.
Through last season, Blackmon accumulated a club-record 691 games in center field. Now it's a new era, with Ian Desmond (previously a left fielder and first baseman) set to play center. For support, Raimel Tapia played center field most of his Minor League career, as did Dahl, and second-base competitor Garrett Hampson has shown the ability to play the position.
"Buddy gave me a call and said they were toying with the idea, and I was open to it," Blackmon said. "He assured me that this was going to help the Rockies win more games, and I'm all about that. Right field is kind of what we settled on. If I had my choice, I would pick right, so it worked out that it was that corner."
Right-handed-hitting Noel Cuevas and left-handed-hitting Mike Tauchman, who both saw time in the Majors last season, can also play all three positions but will have a tough go to make the team this spring because Tapia is out of Minor League options, meaning the Rockies would risk losing him to another club if he is sent down. Also, left-handed-hitting Michael Saunders, an All-Star with the Blue Jays in 2016, is trying to make the club as a non-roster invitee.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.