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Charlie Blackmon leads by example in his return - 'He's the hardest worker I've ever seen'

Patrick Lyons Avatar
August 16, 2023

Charlie Blackmon has never missed more than 22 games on the injured list since becoming a full-time big leaguer in 2014. Entering this season, his 1,253 games played — out of the 1,356 contested by the Colorado Rockies during that span — was bested by only three players, all of whom played the least physically demanding position on the diamond, first base.

Hit by a pitch on June 3 in Kansas City for the 100th time in his career, a mark only six other active players have reached, Blackmon played through the soreness for the next week before a second examination showed a right hand fracture.

Back with the club following two rehab starts with Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes and 53 games missed, the vibe in the Rockies’ clubhouse is markedly different these days.

“That feeling when he walks through the clubhouse doors, you just feel better about it,” Bud Black said of Blackmon’s activation from the IL. “It’s like a starting pitcher who’s a stud. When it’s his day to pitch, it’s a win-day when you have those types of pitchers. And when you have position players like Chuck who bring it every day, it’s good for the guys.”

Besides a pair of veteran catchers in Elias Díaz and Austin Wynns, only Jurickson Profar is over 30 years old among Colorado’s position players. Of those nine, six have less than a year of service time in the Majors.

For those less experienced in the clubhouse, the return of Blackmon has been highly valuable following the loss of five veterans ahead of the trade deadline. In their stead, there have been less options to rely upon as leaders. At least, that was the case before Monday.


“I think anything Chuck does kind of impresses me. He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen,” rookie Nolan Jones shared. “To be around him and watch the way he goes about his business — and then put up great at bats, obviously leadoff hitter and comes back and gives us a good scouting report — it’s awesome.”

Blackmon did it all as the designated hitter during the 6-4 victory at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks to open the series, a win that was only their second in eight games with their National League West rivals and just the eighth this season over 34 contests in the division.

Opening the game with a leadoff walk and getting the Rockies first hit of the game in his next plate appearance, Blackmon simply led by example. In his final at-bat of the night, he lashed a ball up the middle that required him to leg out an infield single. It sparked a four-run eighth-inning that saw five more singles from Ezequiel Tovar, Ryan McMahon, Brendan Rodgers, Nolan Jones and Alan Trejo.

“Hitting kind of breeds hitting. If I see someone in front of me get a hit, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll just do that,’” Blackmon explained. “I think sometimes seeing good at-bats happen kind of puts you in that mindset where like, ‘I’m gonna have a good at-bat too because my teammate did.’’

Aug 14, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies designated hitter Charlie Blackmon (19 heads to third base in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

During Tuesday’s 8-5 loss, a game Colorado led 5-4 going into the ninth before a blown save by closer Justin Lawrence, Blackmon did the one thing the club has struggled to do in his absence: avoid the strikeout. Since the trade deadline, Colorado has been sent back to the dugout 133 times in 12 games, most in all of MLB. With a strikeout percentage over 30%, it’s been difficult to get momentum going.

The hope, ultimately, is that the 37-year-old Blackmon can inject new life into a young team learning and still developing at the big league level.

Diamond Details

Sean Bouchard also returned from the injured list on Monday for the first time all season following left biceps surgery. Bouchard was a breakout performer with the Rockies at the end of 2022, posting a .477 on-base percentage following his call-up on Aug 30. 

Bouchard spent a week at High-A Spokane before playing six games at Triple-A to properly rehabilitate and prepare for his return. According to Black, the reports were that Bouchard looked the same as last season.

“He’s conducting the same type of at-bat. It’s his at bat and if plays anywhere at any level,” Black said. “We saw it last year when he played here and hopefully he performs down there to come back up.”

Optioned to Albuquerque to continue getting regular at-bats, Bouchard hit second and played left field for the Isotopes on Tuesday, going 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base in the process.


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