DENVER -- Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon is the National League Player of the Week for the second time in the last three weeks of baseball.
Blackmon earned the award last Sept. 22, and on Monday, his .542 batting average for the first week of this season earned him a share of the award with Marlins right-handed pitcher Jose Fernandez.
"I think I got really hot in the right calendar week -- there are a lot of great players in this league, and you can't expect to consistently do things like this," Blackmon said. "For that to happen, it's a little luck. First week of the season, people are trying to get their kinks out."
Blackmon's 6-for-6 in the Rockies' home-opening 12-2 victory over the D-backs on Friday was the earliest such a feat has been accomplished since the Phillies' Connie Ryan went 6-for-6 in the third game of 1952. He also had nine hits in two days to tie Juan Pierre's 2002 club record.
For Blackmon, who has spent parts of three seasons in the Majors and truly grabbed big league footing late last season, being a part of the Opening Day roster -- he started that day, in a loss to Fernandez and the Marlins -- has given him a shot of confidence.
"It's completely different," Blackmon said. "Being here from the start, the team saying, 'Hey, we want you on the team. We think you're going to help us win. You're one of our guys.' As opposed to in the past -- I'm sure this isn't how they felt, and they weren't trying to say this, but in my mind, I wasn't good enough to make the team out of camp. You're thinking, I don't want anybody to get hurt, but is that going to be the only way I get promoted?"
Blackmon and fellow left-handed Corey Dickerson competed for starts in center field, but manager Walt Weiss leaned toward Blackmon the whole time because of his strong finish to last season. Now, Blackmon is taking advantage of his chance to start. Dickerson had just six plate appearances off the bench and on Monday was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Dickerson sent to Triple-A to get regular at-bats
DENVER -- Before receiving the bad news of his being optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs, outfielder Corey Dickerson tweeted out his wonderful news:
"So happy to announce the new blessing that we are expecting in October!"
At the time Dickerson sent the tweet, he expected the Rockies to send him down as a corresponding move to activating left-handed pitcher Boone Logan from the 15-day disabled list.
Charlie Blackmon hit .542 through the first week of the season, and there simply weren't at-bats for Dickerson. He was 1-for-5 with a walk, and appeared in just three games. Going to Colorado Springs will offer him regular playing time.
"Right now, getting at-bats is the most important thing, and if injuries happen, I'll be able to step in and play every day," Dickerson said. "For right now, as they've said, there will be a lot of these moves for a lot of guys when they have to fill a pitcher in here, fill a position player in here. I'm a young guy, the youngest outfielder, one of the youngest position players. I'm not going to stress over it. I'm going to go there, have fun like I always do and help them win."
So happy to announce the new blessing that we are expecting in October! pic.twitter.com/HBDfe0vBmi- Corey Dickerson (@MCoreyDickerson) April 7, 2014
Logan becomes the club's 13th pitcher. Manager Walt Weiss said at times this season the Rockies will carry 13, usually during long homestands. This is not one of them, but the club will have to make a move with pitching soon. Right-handed starter Tyler Chatwood will throw an injury rehab game on Tuesday, and is expected to return from his left hamstring injury on April 13 in San Diego.
"It's going to be a fluid roster throughout the season," Weiss said. "That's just how we sit today, with 13 pitchers. We ended up sending Corey out, but it gives him the opportunity to go down there and get some consistent at-bats. Corey is going to be a big part of this ballclub this year and beyond. I think he's going to be a big part of the reason why we win here."
The Rockies tried using six outfielders to start the season, but Blackmon caught fire and there wasn't playing time for for Dickerson, who hit .344 in Spring Training.
"He's a really good hitter," Blackmon said. "That's the hardest thing to do in baseball, and he's only 24. So I'm not worried about Corey one bit. He's a great player. He's going to continue to be a great player. He'll be back at some point, and he's going to play well."
Weiss is trying to turn roster challenges into advantages for the Rockies.
The bullpen struggled during the first series in Miami and could use an extra arm. However, on nights like Monday when the regular lineup is used, there isn't a left-handed bat on the bench.
"It's a tradeoff because your bench is a little shorter as far as weapons late in the game, but it protects your pitching," Weiss said.
Logan gives Rockies second late-game left-hander
DENVER -- The Rockies finally get to see what they have in left-hander Boone Logan, their three-year, $16.5 million free-agent signing.
Logan underwent offseason surgery to clean out bone chips and shave a bone spur in his throwing elbow, and on Monday was activated from the 15-day disabled list.
"I feel relieved that the wait is over and if, God willing, I stay healthy and keep building up my arm strength throughout the course of the season and not have any more setbacks and help my team win," Logan said.
The bullpen had some rough moments as the team lost three of four in Miami, but pitched well while winning two of three against the D-backs. Now, manager Walt Weiss has two late-game power left-handers -- Logan and Rex Brothers.
"It started out a little rough, but they got their feet wet, and this homestand they've been playing lights out so far," Logan said. "I hope I can jump right in the middle of that and ride the wave with them."
Ottavino thriving in high-pressure situations
DENVER -- Rockies right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino said that through practice, he has always been calm. That's good, considering that he's being used in some of the most difficult situations.
In two of his first three appearances this season, Ottavino has struck out three consecutive batters with runners in scoring position, each time after giving up a double to the first hitter he faced. He came through in those situations, and the Rockies won both games.
"I've always kind of been like that out there," Ottavino said. "I got my butterflies like everybody else, but I think I've been able to control my mind a lot more in those situations."
Ottavino's best weapon is his slider, which he is able to use at Coors Field even though balls tend not to break as consistently.
"At home, I just try not to do too much," Ottavino said. "I keep it simple, not try to make it some crazy breaking pitch. On the road, I take the same approach. It tends to move a little more, maybe."
Going into Monday night's opener of a three-game Interleague series against the White Sox, Ottavino had not given up a run and had struck out eight in three innings pitched. Nine of the 11 batters he had faced were right-handed.
"He's tough on right-handers -- that's his history," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "In this situation in the last series with Arizona, the middle of their lineup was all right-handed, and I had a feeling he was going to play a big role at some point. He's even dominant at times against right-handed hitters, so that's a nice weapon to have out there.
"It's not only the action of the slider that's good, but there's a lot of deception to it. 'Otto' is one of those guys that steps across his body. A right-handed hitter must feel like he's throwing it from behind him, but when that ball cuts across the zone, it's a tough pitch to hit."
Ottavino heads off any stress that comes with his role by always expecting the call from the dugout.
"If I see any righties coming up and the pitcher is in trouble, I expect it could be me," Ottavino said. "Also, if there are innings to be eaten, it could be me, too. So that's pretty much any situation. I stretch out and expect it to be me when the phone rings. If it's not, no big deal, but I'm ready."