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Blackmon looks to keep improving in 2018

Rockies center fielder still motivated after strong season
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon's 2017 to-do list was hard to read. Health, consistency, power … slash, slash, slash.

Among the goals Blackmon met were: Starting the All-Star Game, helping the Rockies reach the postseason, winning his first National League batting title with a .331 average and topping many other categories and tying Nolan Arenado for the team lead with 37 home runs.

DENVER -- Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon's 2017 to-do list was hard to read. Health, consistency, power … slash, slash, slash.

Among the goals Blackmon met were: Starting the All-Star Game, helping the Rockies reach the postseason, winning his first National League batting title with a .331 average and topping many other categories and tying Nolan Arenado for the team lead with 37 home runs.

But the truly driven player is motivated by tasks undone, and Blackmon looks at his next act in 2018 as a motivator.

Blackmon went 0-for-4 in an 11-8 loss to the D-backs in the NL Wild Card Game. In his final and most productive plate appearance, with a runner at third base, he tried to bunt past pitcher Jorge De La Rosa -- an ex-teammate that Blackmon knew was deficient in fielding such plays. Blackmon's bunt was too hard, and D-backs second baseman Daniel Descalso threw him out. Yes, it was an RBI sacrifice bunt, but a hit could have kept the rally going.

"I wasn't very effective in that Wild Card Game," Blackmon said. "That's really the most important game in my big league career, of my baseball career, period. For me to not get it done ... I feel like if I get a big hit right there, that might change the game, change our postseason path this year.

"Having ended the season on that note, that's really going to be the focus of my mentality going forward, that I'm a part of a team that is looking to make the playoffs and is depending on me to produce once we get there."

Video: Charlie Blackmon discusses his offseason preparations

Don't let his carrying his disappointment into the winter fool you. Blackmon is not a sour character by any stretch.

@Chuck_Nazty is Blackmon's inventive Twitter profile, which stars his bushy beard and a tongue-in-cheek, tough-guy persona. He has become popular with media, not just because of his baseball passion, but also his wit and intelligence. After all, he graduated with highest honors in finance from Georgia Tech. He even melted when he met a 2-year-old fan, who became an internet sensation during the summer.

When interviewed about his 2018 goals and motivations, Blackmon was not long removed from a fishing trip to Costa Rica, with the pictures of his mahi-mahi catch to prove it.

But finding a disappointment isn't hard for a baseball player. In fact, it's useful.

"There are a lot of very painful memories, outcomes, whatever you want to call it, that I can go back to and get a lot of motivation from, knowing that I don't want to be there again," Blackmon said. "I've learned from that mistake. I don't want to be there, having made the same mistake again. I've got to figure out how to adjust, get better, overcome that. What am I going to do differently should I be in the same situation the next time?

"Lots of feelings like that are the reasons that baseball players get better."

Another motivator for Blackmon is working for more than just himself. So keeping up the on-field performance and finding ways to feel better while shouldering his workload -- some of his specifics for 2018 -- are tasks done for the team.

"Last year, I tried to be a different teammate to the guys around me," Blackmon said. "And I actively tried to do some things that would help others perform better, which is hard to do in a sport where it's hard to perform individually. Not only was I trying to play good because I wanted to play good, because playing good helps me. But really realizing that if other guys play good, that also helps me. If I play good, that helps them.

"It's kind of hard to struggle, yourself, and turn around and feel like it's your place to help someone else. But sometimes you've got to get over yourself and do the right thing. That was a key for me last year, and that's obviously something I want to continue to do and get better at going forward."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.

 

Colorado Rockies, Charlie Blackmon