Blackmon Dealt with COVID-19; Now He's Dealing at the Plate

Tracy Ringolsby

Charlie Blackmon was the late arrival to the Rockies' Summer Camp. Having contracted COVID-19 while he was at home in Georiga awaiting the green light for teams to resume preparations for the season, he didn't get clearance when the Rockies convened at Coors Field.

And when he finally got to get on the field and start working out, there was speculation he would not be ready to be on the Opening Day roster.

The doubters should have known better. Charlie Blackmon is one of those unique individuals. He's one of those guys who has been proving doubters wrong seemingly forever.

Hey, he's the sore-armed left-handed relief specialist from Georgia Tech who emerged in his senior season as an impact outfielder, and wound up a second-round draft choice of the Rockies.

And that' same "Can-Do" mentality remains today.

Not only was Blackmon in the lineup for the season opener at Texas, he has played in all 12 of the Rockies games so far this season, and after going hitless in the first two games of the season, he heads into Friday night's game in Seattle with a 10-game hitting streak.

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And it's not just any hitting streak. Despite that 0-for-8 start to the season, he ranks third in MLB with a .396 average, behind only Donovan Solano of the Giants and former Rockies teammate DJ LeMahieu of the Yankees. LeMahieu, like Blackmon, had a delayed Summer Camp because of a bout with COVID-19. 

And Blackmon heads into Seattle hitting .475 in his last 10 games, with 14 RBI, which leads the NL for the season. 

Surprised? Blackmon isn't.

"I think I'm a good baseball player so I don't want to be surprised that a good baseball player is playing good," he said. "I thought I would be a little more competitive than I was the first couple of games, but it does seem I caught on pretty quick. A big part of that was being able to get my body caught up quicker than I thoguht I would.

"My main focus is making sure my body feels good and that my on-field instincts and baseball skills would be there."

It's not easy, not for Blackmon. He is overly focused on each action in life. 

In a unique baseball season, the abnormal is the normal.

So far, Blackmon has adapted -- grudgingly.

"I knew coming in to this I was going to have to be more flexible than I normally am," he admitted. "Knowing that, I'm trying not to get upset when things don't go my way or all these protocols we have. I knew coming in it was not going to be the same process for me.

"I put more of an emphasis on mentally being ready to go once the game starts. I may not be able to do everything exactly the way I have in the past, but when the game starts I need to be ready to go and not upset with this or point fingers at that or making excuses."

No excuses necessary. Not with the way Blackmon has played.

And truth be told, Blackmon has found a welcome change to his routine this season.

He's no longer hitting leadoff, where he had excelled in production from the top spot in the lineup.

With the emergence of David Dahl to step into that role, Blackmond finds himself primarily hitting in the No. 3 spot -- a left-handed bat in between the impact right-handed bats of Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado.

"I enjoy hitting third," he said. "Every at-bat is a little bit more like I am hitting in the same situation. I am not ever hitting lead off to open the game or hitting behind the pitcher. 

"I can take every at-bat and look at it as what's best for the team. I almost never take a pitch over the plate or see four of five pitches because the pitcher needs a break. I am almost entirely centered on scoring runs or driving in runs."

And he more often than not succeeds on that mission.

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