Dahl soaring for Rox under Blackmon's wing
DENVER -- When the Rockies board their plane, David Dahl seeks out fellow outfielder Charlie Blackmon. They have so much in common: early careers filled with promise, when freakish injuries aren't a factor; tall, speedy frames; and, well, beards, although Dahl hasn't had -- and may not want -- the years without a razor, shaver or clipper.
"I sit by him usually on the plane," Dahl said. "We talk about hitting, staying healthy and all the stuff that he helps me with -- at least when he's not sleeping on the plane."
In addition to sharing information on opposing pitchers and injury prevention, the two could share happy stories of performances that have helped the Rockies secure a postseason berth. Going into Saturday night's game against the Nationals, Blackmon had hit safely in 19 of 20 games while Dahl had become the player of this homestand by homering in all five games.
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Blackmon, 32, is reveling in the success of Dahl, 23, who since returning Aug. 5 from a broken right foot has pushed his way into regular starts.
"He's done a great job, really swung the bat well, and it's really nice to see him back on the field," Blackmon said after Friday night's 5-2 victory over the Nationals, in which he and Dahl homered -- as did veterans Chris Iannetta and Ian Desmond.
Blackmon's 2011 debut was ended after 27 games because of a left foot fracture he sustained while running the bases. Turf toe in his left big toe in Spring Training led to him being limited to 42 games in '12, and he missed the start of '13 with a staph infection and ended up playing 82 games.
Dahl's time in the Minors included a lengthy period missed with a hamstring injury and a devastating spleen laceration after a collision with a teammate while chasing a fly ball in 2015. After hitting .315 with seven homers in his 63-game Major League debut in '16, he came down with a stress reaction in a rib last spring and never appeared for the Rockies.
Then there was this year's foot injury.
Now healthy, Dahl is displaying the hand quickness and easy power that attracted the Rockies to select him 10th overall in the first round in 2012 out of Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala. And Blackmon is doing what he can to shorten the learning curve. On Thursday, for example, Dahl went to Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez for information on Phillies star Jacob Arrieta, then powered a home run to center field.
"He's asking more questions than he used to," Blackmon said. "When he first came up he had a lot of talent -- still does, right? He was able to just roll it out and be able to hit. There's more to big league baseball than hand-eye coordination. He knows that and is just trying to pick up an edge, or pick up some information that can help him."
Dahl said Blackmon's actions also are an example. Dahl said he follows Blackmon's routine of using foam rollers and engaging in stretching, and doing hot-and-cold compresses in maintenance.
"He had some freakish injuries early in his career," Dahl said. "To hear what he went through and seeing what he's doing now is definitely a good feeling -- knowing I could be like that. He helps with approach, lets me know how pitchers throw. If a guy has a good fastball with great life he lets me know -- he lets me know a lot of stuff."