'Enjoy today': Through Black's advice, Goodman shines in debut

August 27th, 2023

BALTIMORE -- On Sunday morning, received the advice manager Bud Black gives to all debuting Rockies: “More than anything, enjoy today, listen for every moment.”

The final moment of many for Goodman to remember Sunday afternoon had a dreamy soundtrack -- the ball’s explosion off James McCann’s bat before nestling into his first-base mitt, and his diving body hitting the infield dirt.

Such was Goodman’s securing of the final out of the Rockies’ much-needed 4-3 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Goodman -- who forced the callup by hitting .371 with nine home runs in 15 games with Triple-A Albuquerque, after hitting .239 with 25 homers and 78 RBIs at Double-A Hartford -- had two hits (the first one driving in a run) and scored the winning run on Elias Díaz’s ninth-inning RBI groundout.

Goodman, the Rockies' No. 12 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, ended the day by snatching the final out behind closer Justin Lawrence -- who needed the result as much as any of the Rockies, who had lost six straight despite being tied or in the lead in the eighth inning or later.

“I just thought all around it was a good day -- I had a lot of fun, and enjoyed a good win and being able to contribute,” Goodman said.

Goodman’s first day in the Majors also featured Black’s 1,000th game as the Rockies’ manager. Black also managed 1,362 for the Padres from 2007-15, and he became the 12th man to manage at least 1,000 with two teams.

Black won’t have to worry. Goodman will remember the day.

“That was great,” Black said. “I told him when he came in this morning, 'There’s no day like your first day.' There’s going to be a lot going through your mind.

“Get your first hit, score the go-ahead run and make a diving play on a ball to end the game. There’s a lot in there.”

There was a lot to remember from non-rookies, as well.

• Starter Ty Blach, trying to secure his spot in the rotation for next year, pitched a season-high seven innings and matched a career high with seven strikeouts.

• Ryan McMahon had two hits (including a double) after entering Sunday 3-for-18 on the road trip at Tampa Bay and Baltimore -- the prime American League East contenders.

• Lawrence endured a harrowingly soft blown save at Tampa Bay and had faltered in five of his past 10 appearances entering Sunday. This time, he picked up Jake Bird, who gave up Ryan O’Hearn’s game-tying two-run homer in the eighth.

Goodman’s day started with a second-inning drive to the warning track in deep center against Jack Flaherty, and his single through the middle to score McMahon in the sixth ended Flaherty’s day.

From here, it’s a month-plus of not just learning the Majors, but competing with rookies in similar situations. Shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, who has been the starter since Opening Day, and outfielder Nolan Jones have staked their claim to be part of the Rockies’ turnaround with their two-way play.

Center fielder Brenton Doyle’s star-level defense has far outpaced his offense, although he went 1-for-3 in the series finale. Players somewhat connected to Goodman are rookie switch-hitting first baseman Michael Toglia, who homered in the fifth and has gone deep in two of his past three starts; and second-year first baseman/designated hitter Elehuris Montero, who did not play Sunday.

Goodman plays both corner outfield positions, but so does Toglia, while Montero is primarily a first baseman. There could be crowds at first base and the outfield when Kris Bryant returns from a left index finger fracture. Bryant has embraced the idea of playing some first base.

The five rookies who started Sunday and Montero will receive the bulk of the at-bats the rest of the season. To make room for Goodman -- a 23-year-old who was a fourth-round pick in 2021 out of Memphis -- the Rockies released veteran outfielder Jurickson Profar -- who will be eligible for the postseason if he hooks on with another team by Thursday.

Black managed the Rockies to the postseason his first two years (2017 and '18) and stuck through years of on-field struggles. Wanting to be part of the solution, Black has enthusiastically accepted a commitment to the youth movement that has begun this year.

“When you have this situation, the teaching aspect comes into play,” Black said. “All of us as coaches, in a sense, we’re all teachers. The intrinsic value for us has been in the cage, in the dugout, in the bullpen, in my office, in the clubhouse, on the plane. That’s when it happens.

“I do think players like structure. They want to learn. They want help.”

Learning is easier when the first day of school is like Goodman’s.