Friday, April 4, 2014

Colorado Rockies paint the town Black(mon) in home opener

Charlie Blackmon had a career day on Friday in the Rockies home opener.
Apparently there was a battle for the center field position for the Colorado Rockies in spring training. Charlie Blackmon made that notion sound like a joke on Monday in front of a packed house at Coors Field.

The 27-year-old produced an Opening Day performance for the ages. On Friday he went 6-for-6 with a home run and three doubles. He was sitting a triple shy of the cycle by his 6th inning at-bat, when Mark Trumbo misplayed a ball in left field and nearly allowed him to complete the feat.

The Rockies cruised to a 12-2 win, a great showing after a miserable first series of the season in Miami. Everything that went wrong against the Marlins seemed to go right on Friday. Timely, fundamental hitting, on top of the ability to deliver the right pitch in the right spot when it mattered.

The front office for this ball club has insisted that it will be a different year. Despite another season in the basement of the National League, ownership and the decision-makers believe that they have enough role players on this team that if Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez stay healthy, that this team could make a run at the postseason.

If that is going to be the case, guys like Blackmon have to be better than decent. They have to have seasons that no scout would have predicted. They have to take the next step and be a bat in the lineup that the opposing pitcher isn't excited about dealing with.

On Friday, Blackmon certainly convinced anyone who doubted him that it may indeed be possible for him to fill that need.

Blackmon is fun to watch. He isn't the most talented guy in the world, as evidenced by his first Opening Day roster spot coming as a 27-year-old. However, he also brings something that seemed like it was missing from the Rockies clubhouse over the past few seasons. He brings a fun-loving personality that seems to have been missing from the team.

Blackmon has a sense of humor that is evident on his social media channels as well as his postgame interviews. That type of personality, especially when they are playing a critical role on the field, can bring a light-heartedness that can take the pressure off during a losing streak and keep it simple when things are going well.

The day that the Rockies centerfielder had was so good that it made the job that starting pitcher Juan Nicasio did seem pedestrian. However, it shouldn't be forgotten that Nicasio's struggles were something that the majority of critics (myself included) have pointed to as a reason why this team won't get any better.

In 2013, Nicasio actually had a start in which 27 of the first 28 pitches that he threw were four-seamed fastballs. Talk of a third pitch was so laughable because of the fact that Nicasio didn't even have a second pitch. On Friday, Nicasio threw a sinker, as well as a changeup and even a slider. While the four-seemer is still thrown the majority of the time, a batter can't sit on it if he knows that Nicasio possesses an out pitch.

Overall, Nicasio pitched seven strong innings, giving up only one run on four hits. He struck out six and walked only one.

With the idea that prospects Eddie Butler and Jon Gray could make an impact in the 2014 season, the Rockies will be in very good shape if a guy like Nicasio can prove to be a valuable member of the starting rotation.

The Rockies still have plenty to prove. They still have to prove their doubters wrong, but for one day, Rockies fans can be happy with their team. They can see the performance that they put on and see the potential that exists.

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