Blackmon's attention to detail paying off

Blackmon's attention to detail paying off

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon believes if he can maintain concentration on his hitting plan through Spring Training, he'll be OK for the regular season.

Blackmon has hit .467, with hits in all but two of his 11 Cactus League appearances. Add his 3-for-4 against Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic exhibition, and Blackmon's average is .500 (17-for-34), with five doubles and a home run.

Because of the Classic, the Spring Training schedule began Feb. 25 -- five days earlier than last year. First-year manager Bud Black has lightened the schedule for frontline players. Blackmon, for example, has had one back-to-back but generally is playing every other day.

Yet, Blackmon's concentration hasn't wavered despite the choppy playing schedule, and the knowledge that everything he does in Arizona will be wiped out come Opening Day, April 3 at Milwaukee.

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"I'm trying to do stuff that I feel like I would do during the season in terms of thought process," Blackmon said. "It's getting there."

Last season, Blackmon, 30, led Major League leadoff hitters with 29 homers, plus achieved a .324/.381/.552 slash line (all career highs). This spring's extra-base hits and other solid line drives indicate he continues to hit balls hard, and is moving toward the power swing he possessed last year.

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Blackmon sees no reason for good swings and smart hitting plans to disappear once the games count.

"It'll actually make it easier," he said. "The amount of focus that I can put into a game right now is pretty high. But you add the atmosphere of a big league game, and for me, and for good players, it enables them to increase that focus.

"I can harness that, use that atmosphere to up my focus, rather than be overwhelmed by the emotions of the game and not be able to control it."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.