Blackmon goes from bubble to historic six-hit day
Unsure if he'd make Rockies' roster, outfielder ties, sets team, big league marks
DENVER -- After his historic 6-for-6 performance with three doubles and a two-run homer during a 12-2 victory over the D-backs on Friday, Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon is on top of the world, and needless to say, he will get more chances at the top of the lineup.
Not bad for a guy who was perched precariously atop the roster bubble for most of Spring Training.
Blackmon hit .236 this spring, with fellow lefty hitter Corey Dickerson sizzling at .344 and the Rockies looking as if there would be just one spot for a lefty-hitting center fielder.
Manager Walt Weiss had a stress-relieving meeting, during which he said the team was keeping Dickerson and Blackmon and going with a total of six outfielders.
"He called all the guys that were on the bubble in," Blackmon recalled. "He let us know that he believes in all of us. I was a part of that group last year. Walt did a really good job of getting guys at-bats. I think it's going to work."
That decision made it possible for Blackmon on Friday to post the second 6-for-6 day in Rockies history and establish a couple of other firsts.
Historically, Blackmon became:
• The first player to go 6-for-6 with a homer and three doubles.
• The first player since the Pirates' Dick Groat in his Most Valuable Player season of 1960 to have three doubles among six hits in a game.
• The first player in franchise history to have five or more hits, drive in three or more runs and score four or more runs.
• The first leadoff hitter with six hits in a game since Ian Kinsler did it for the Rangers on April 15, 2009, and the 19th leadoff hitter in history with as many hits in a contest.
The six-hit performance would mean a lot less if it occurred at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where Blackmon feared he'd begin his year when spring didn't go well. But Weiss watched Blackmon hit .309 in 82 games last season.
"I don't put a whole lot of stock in Spring Training," Weiss said. "We tend to get caught up in what a guy hits in Spring Training. When the season starts, your whole mentality changes. I put a lot of stock in what Charlie did at the end of the season last year."
In 2011-12, foot injuries truncated Blackmon's time in the Majors. Last year, he suffered an infection in his right knee during Spring Training, began the year at Colorado Springs and didn't stick until his second time on the roster. So while he had won Weiss over before even coming to camp, Blackmon still felt he needed to press to earn a job.
"I looked at our team, and we've got lots of really good players, really good outfielders, and we all play the same position," Blackmon said. "The Rockies are trying to put the best group of players on the field. So there are no shoe-ins. I'm definitely not one of them. I didn't know how it was going to shake out until the last few days of camp."
Now with Blackmon 9-for-16, Weiss is fielding questions about not whether Blackmon makes it, but whether he has earned everyday starts in center. Weiss, however, is also charged with finding enough starts for right-handed-hitting Drew Stubbs (0-for-4, two strikeouts) and Dickerson (1-for-4) to find their swings, and keeping right-handed-hitting Brandon Barnes (1-for-4) involved.
"I'm not worried about it," Weiss said. "That stuff tends to play out. It's nice that we have a lot of options."
The mentality of battling to be one of the options works for Blackmon, 27. After Friday, which also included nice plays in center and left (where he moved late in the game), Blackmon, who usually watches every pitch of every at-bat, said he would watch only the video of him being caught attempting to steal third base in the sixth inning.
"I struggle, obviously, when I'm terrible, because I'm bad, then I feel like I struggle if I'm doing well," Blackmon said. "I don't know how to stop thinking, 'Wow, I got a couple hits today.' You're not used to that. It's different. You're used to being 1-for-3, 1-for-4 or trying to get their second hit -- or your first hit. Most of the time, I'm just trying to get one."