There’s been a lot of talk during spring training from the kid Rockies about the team’s energy, tight-knit clubhouse and on-field potential.
“It’s a young core that’s very familiar with each other,” said Ryan McMahon, 26, who’s taking over as the new third baseman. “A lot of us have come up together in the minors, so we know about the young guys we’re adding to the roster.
“So it can be a really good thing. We’re really familiar with each other. And hopefully, that translates to some compatibility, some flow out on the field.”
But make no mistake, this is a team in transition, which is why a lot of pundits predict the team will lose 95 to 100 games. All-star third baseman Nolan Arenado is now wearing St. Louis Cardinals red, and star shortstop Trevor Story’s future likely won’t be in Colorado. Story is scheduled to become a free agent after this season.
This brings us to right fielder Charlie Blackmon. At 34, and with eight-plus years of service time under his belt, he’s the old man in the clubhouse. Now, more than ever, the four-time all-star will need to be a leader.
“A big part of what I want to do now is to really have a sense of where everybody is at — individually,” Blackmon said earlier in camp. “I want the approach to be like, ‘What information do they need at this time?’
“Sometimes I need to instill confidence in them. Sometimes, they just might need a scouting report from me, or maybe they just might want to vent about their swing. Or they might just need to know that somebody cares and will listen to them.”
Blackmon’s work ethic and rigorous pregame-and-postgame routine set the tone for the team, even if others can’t match it.
“Charlie is awesome,” said Garrett Hampson, the favorite to start in center field. “And what he does as routine is just something that I respect him for — because there’s no way I could do what he does. I can’t sit there in the weight room and roll out (on a foam roller) for three hours. It’s just not who I am. I can’t. I’d go crazy. But it works for him.”
Manager Bud Black foresees Blackmon becoming a more visible, and vocal, leader.
“I think Charlie has taken that to heart,” Black said. “We have spoken about that, with me encouraging him to take on a role that he hasn’t had to — on a grander scale. I think he’s embraced it. I think he’s enjoying it. I think he’ll be a great mentor for our group.”
Rodgers’ homer. Brendan Rodgers’ opposite-field home run Thursday was a long time coming. The infielder didn’t homer before the end of last year’s spring training was canceled and he didn’t homer in his seven regular-season games. In fact, his last homer came May 13, 2019, for Triple-A Albuquerque.
True, Thursday’s blow came during Cactus League action, but it still caught the Rockies’ attention.
“When he rocketed that home run to right-center, it was an indication of his power,” Black said. “That was a short stroke, direct to the ball. It was a breaking pitch that he drove out of the park.”
Story’s place. Story made his Cactus League debut Friday, hitting second in the order. Black, however, said that was just to get Story as many at-bats as possible. During the regular season, Black said that Story is likely going to hit third.
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