Charlie Blackmon always had the mindset that he will have a good game whether it’s his defense or offense. It’s that positive mindset that endeared him to second-year Rockies manager Walt Weiss last season when he was called up.
Still, Blackmon did not think in his wildest dreams he would have six hits in a game in the Rockies’ 12-2 home opener victory against the Diamondbacks yesterday afternoon. He certainly had a day to remember yesterday when he homered, doubled three times, singled couple of times and drove in five runs. He was a triple short of a cycle.
Yesterday’s performance by him is another example of what makes baseball an unscripted sport. No one knows what player will step up on a given day. Not even ballplayers.
It was a game Blackmon needed to validate him being in the lineup everyday. The Rockies are going with outfielders by committee to play with Carlos Gonzalez in the outfield, and Blackmon was Weiss’ choice to be the centerfielder to start the season.
So far, Blackmon has done okay. Prior to his six-hit game, he had three hits and one RBI in the four games he played against the Marlins.
It’s early to judge Blackmon. Still, he needs to get off to a good start to validate his playing time. He has to show the Rockies that they made the right choice to dump Dexter Fowler for him. He has to earn the fans’ trust after Rockies fans expressed their disgust on Fowler being traded.
Blackmon was one of those guys that stood out to Weiss in the final two months of the season. What the Rockies manager liked about his role player was his ability to grind out at bats and his knack of reading where the ball is going in the outfield. It was why he convinced Dick Monfort, Dan O’Dowd and Bill Geivett to trade Fowler and go with Blackmon at centerfield.
The 27-year old outfielder puts pressure on himself to perform. He doesn’t need fans to motivate him. He knows this is his time to show he can be an everyday player. He knows opportunities don’t come often. With his age, he does not have time to grow into his role. He either has to produce or play his way out of the major leagues.
Blackmon’s time is now. He hit .309 and he had an .803 OPS and 22 RBIs in the 82 games he played last season in his call up, and he feels that should bode well for his confidence heading to this season.
Last year’s call up struggled in spring training, but that did not deter Weiss. The second-year Rockies manager had faith his player would come through when the regular season starts. There was no reason to think he was bailing on his player after he convinced his bosses that his guy is the right man for the job at center field.
Weiss’ confidence made Blackmon’s job easy. That’s why the Rockies outfielder was not pressing much in spring training and against the Marlins. That faith paved way for the six-hit performance.
Who knows what Blackmon is going to do? Even the Rockies don’t know. As much as Weiss wants him to play everyday, his performance will dictate whether he deserves to be an everyday player. His role is not etched in stone when the Rockies are carrying five other outfielders on the roster.
With Blackmon striking out often and hitting for decent average, he does not seem like an everyday player that the Rockies want to build around. He might be a great grinder, but teams don’t win with bunch of grinders. They win with guys who can hit home runs and drive in runs. They expect guys who are going to be reliable. There’s a reason management wanted the team to have as many outfielders as possible.
Weiss wants Blackmon to be his everyday player. He sees himself in Blackmon when he played for the Athletics.
Blackmon hopes he can continue to have days like yesterday. He may not have six hits, but he expects to be the sparkplug in setting up a rally. He knows he has the talent to do so.
He knows there is no time to enjoy yesterday’s game. Not when he is playing for his job.
He knows he is only as good as yesterday. That’s probably why he did not get worked up about his six-hit performance. He knows he is not good enough to be reflective on a day like yesterday.
Blackmon was not in danger of losing his role as an everyday player. Not when he has a month to prove himself. Still, he knows playing time can go away quickly. That’s why he will go out there and continue to use each game as a referendum to play everyday.
More games like yesterday, and he will become a fan favorite along with being an everyday player.
Contact or follow Leslie Monteiro at @LightRodWriter