ST. LOUIS -- Charlie Blackmon has hit his way back to the Majors to the tune of a .336 batting average at Triple-A Colorado Springs. But Blackmon, who started for the Rockies on Sunday against the Cardinals, said the swings he didn't take meant as much as the ones that connected.
Blackmon, called up because the Rockies placed outfielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Thursday because of a bulging disc in his neck, posted a .452 on-base percentage in Triple-A. Granted it was just over 31 games, but he had never had an on-base percentage better than .393 in any season in the Minors. The improved selectivity was by design.
It wasn't as if Blackmon, 26, has spent the time in the Springs with the bat on his shoulders. He belted 10 doubles, three home runs and two triples, for a .545 slugging percentage.
"I just wanted to be a better player," Blackmon said. "I figured the more you get on base, the better. It's not something where I went down there and said I wanted to walk a lot. I just wanted to get the feel of having a good at-bat every time I go up there."
This is the third call-up for Blackmon. A broken foot ended his season in 2011 after 27 games (.255, one homer, eight RBIs), and turf toe delayed his arrival until late last season (.283, two homers, nine RBIs in 42 games). An infection in his left knee this spring scuttled his chance to make the Opening Day roster. But manager Walt Weiss has seen enough of Blackmon to want him to contribute immediately.
"I like to get guys involved right away when they get here," Weiss said. "Charlie's been doing a great job. He handles left-handers really well. He's been stringing together a lot of good at-bats down there in Colorado Springs. He runs well. He brings some things. Hopefully he can be something that helps jump-start us."
In other lineup-related moves, Weiss rested veteran first baseman Todd Helton, who played Friday night and Saturday afternoon -- a rare day game after a night game. Also, Wilin Rosario was back in at catcher after Yorvit Torrealba caught Saturday's game. It was the first time Rosario worked with left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, who has meshed well with Torrealba.
Rutledge happy to don pink gear for Mother's Day
ST. LOUIS -- Rockies second baseman Josh Rutledge's older brother, Michael, lives in Alabama, but works for the St. Louis-based Edward Jones investment company. So this was a good weekend for Michael to see his little brother play and bring along the parents, Tony and Cheryl.
So Josh Rutledge figured it was time for a gift for mom. But he had to wear it during Sunday's 8-2 victory over the Cardinals. After the game, he delivered his pink Under Armour baseball spikes to mom. On Mother's Day, players often wear pink accessories and sometimes swing pink bats as part of Major League Baseball's breast cancer awareness campaign that's associated with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.
"I'm going to give all my stuff to her just so she can keep it," Rutledge said. "I told her yesterday. It was just close enough to drive for them."
Rutledge went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Eric Young Jr., who struck out, and Reid Brignac, who hit an RBI double, used pink bats. Plenty of players wore pink wristbands, including Rutledge. Third baseman Nolan Arenado wore a prominent pink sleeve on his left forearm and had two hits, including a double.
Bichette keeps level head despite team's struggles
ST. LOUIS -- Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette stayed quiet when the offense was producing during the strong early days of the season. He's keeping the same approach through the team's struggles, which include consecutive shutouts against the Cardinals on Friday and Saturday.
"That's the game, you have to handle it in your head," Bichette said. "You have to slow the game down in these times, you have to take it one pitch at a time. Nobody needs to be a hero right now. There is nobody panicking in here. Walt [Weiss, the Rockies' manager] has gone through this many times. It will make us better when we get through it.
"You have to give those guys [Cards pitchers Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright] credit. Sure, we could have been better, but not a whole lot better, considering how they threw to the plate. There weren't too many in the fat part of the strike zone."
As a team struggles, many aspects of the operation come under scrutiny. One is the structure of the coaching staff. The Rockies have not joined the trend that most teams are part of -- hiring an assistant hitting coach. The team does have a pitching coach (Jim Wright) and an assistant (Bo McLaughlin).
And Bichette said there are enough folks keeping an eye on hitting.
"We have three or four hitting coaches," Bichette said. "They might not be labeled hitting coaches, but we have Pat Burgess, that's the bullpen catcher [a teammate of Troy Tulowitzki at Long Beach State] who helps out with hitting. We have Chris Warren, who is the advanced scout who helps out a lot with the hitting, as does Brian Jones, the video guy. There is a lot of information there. There is plenty of information. And Walt gets involved, so there is plenty of help."
The theory behind a team having two hitting coaches is one could relay information from the video room to the hitting coach, or to players, during the game. But Bichette's coaching philosophy is against information overload.
"If someone has a game plan you don't always want to go in there and change the plan," he said. "These guys are up there and they are taking the at-bats, and as the day goes along, good hitters develop their game plan.
"Give them help if they look lost. But I actually saw some good at-bats as the [Saturday] game went on, from our good hitters. Nothing fell for us, but we hit the ball hard and we made some good adjustments. I wouldn't want to panic on the guys."
Arenado remaining focused despite slump
ST. LOUIS -- Rockies rookie Nolan Arenado had gone hitless in 15 at-bats over five games before his eighth-inning single ended Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright's no-hit bid on Saturday.
The sense was Arenado deserved to be the one to keep the Rockies away from negative history. Manager Walt Weiss said Arenado, called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on April 28, has maintained confidence and fundamentals throughout his slump.
"Nolan's swinging the bat really well," Weiss said of Arenado, who doubled in his first at-bat on Sunday against the Cardinals. "The average doesn't necessarily say that, but he's barreled up a lot of balls that have been outs. He's handled himself really well.
"You keep your eye on guys, particularly young guys. If they start to get beat up a little bit, that's when I'll give them a day. But for me, he's playing a helluva third base and he's putting together a lot of very good at-bats."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.