SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — It may not seem right, but Charlie Blackmon will be in right field for Colorado this season.
Blackmon, a four-time All-Star who has anchored center field for the Rockies since 2014 and has played more games there than anyone else in franchise history, said Monday he spoke to manager Bud Black about the switch and is fine with it.
“He assured me this was going to help the Rockies win more games, and I’m all about that,” Blackmon said.
With Ian Desmond slated to play center field, the issue became which corner spot Blackmon would fill.
“If I had my choice, I would pick right,” Blackmon said.
The new alignment puts David Dahl in left.
Blackmon has played all three outfield spots while hitting .302 in his eight-year career with the Rockies, but he has been almost strictly a center fielder since 2015, when he made four starts in each of the corner spots. He started 64 games in right field in 2014.
He has played 691 games in center.
“I really enjoy playing center field,” Blackmon said. “I think you can impact the game in center field more than in either corner. There is a sense of pride in being able to play center field, especially at Coors Field. I’m not going to let that get in the way, especially if we think it is going to help us win more games.
“Ian Desmond is more than capable. Super-fast. Incredible athlete. I’m sure he’ll pick up the slack just fine.”
Dahl, who turns 25 on April 1, made 34 starts in left field and 30 in right last season.
“It’s pretty tough in left,” Dahl said. “The ball comes off the bat a little different, especially at Coors, where the ball carries. You have to takes good angles.”
There’s more ground to cover in left than in right at asymmetrical Coors Field. The distance down the lines is about the same, but the left-center field alley is 390 feet from home plate and the right-center field alley is 375.
“In our park, I like right for Charlie,” Black said. “I think he is probably more comfortable in right. David might have a little more range in left. I think left field needs range in our park.”
Carlos Gonzalez, currently a free agent, was the Rockies’ primary right fielder in 2018, making 117 starts there.
“‘Cargo’ would give me this look when a ball gets hit in the gap that (meant), ‘You are going to get this, right?’” Blackmon said with a smile. “Hopefully I can give that look to Ian a little bit less.”