Blackmon fashions success in fight against cancer

Blackmon fashions success in fight against cancer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon's distinctive style might have helped him have a strong season in the Dominican Republic. It definitely helped in the fight against cancer.

Blackmon opened a Web page as part of the Movember & Sons project. Men grew mustaches to raise money and awareness for the fight against the disease. Blackmon's was a doozy. It started as a mustache and beard, then in phases morphed into a Fu Manchu with Elvis-esque sideburns and a goatee.

Playing for Toros del Este to build a catalog of at-bats after an injury-shortened 2012 season, the increasingly hirsute Blackmon hit .323 with a .421 on-base percentage and 14 runs scored in 26 games before returning to his offseason home in Atlanta just prior to Thanksgiving.

"People I knew before in the States and people I knew in the Dominican Republic looked at me, did a double-take and started laughing," Blackmon said. "They couldn't take me seriously the rest of the day. If anything, it may have gotten me more breaking balls. I guess they were scared to throw me a fastball."

More importantly in the big picture, Blackmon has raised $4,050 for the cancer fight through his Movember Web page. The Rockies, through Facebook and Twitter, kept Blackmon's campaign on the minds of fans. Donations are being accepted through this month.

"It makes me feel great," Blackmon said. "I was able to use my position and the leverage that position has in order to raise money for a good cause. It also shows what kind of character the people of Denver and the Rockies fans have, and just how awesome those people are."

Blackmon, 26, a fourth-round pick of the Rockies in the 2008 Draft out of Georgia Tech who has built a fast fan following through his play -- and his quirky, Chuck Norris-esque personality on Twitter (@Chuck_Nazty) -- has had encouraging performances but also has battled injuries in two seasons. He started strong after being called up in June 2011 but, while making adjustments after pitchers began exploiting holes, sustained a broken right foot on July 7. He finished with a .255 average, one home run and eight RBIs.

Last season, Blackmon started Spring Training hot but sustained essentially a turf toe injury in the same foot, and had some setbacks during rehab. However, he finished the season in the Majors, hitting .283 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 42 games. The winter ball experience left him encouraged and determined to make an impact in 2013.

Blackmon will be part of a competitive outfield situation. The projected outfield consists of All-Star Carlos Gonzalez in left, Dexter Fowler in center and veteran leader Michael Cuddyer in right, provided the Rockies don't receive an offer they can't refuse and deal Fowler and/or Cuddyer. Injuries last season allowed Tyler Colvin and Eric Young Jr. to impress the Rockies.

"I don't think I'll try to be as I was in the past," said Blackmon, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. "Still, I don't think I put any unnecessary pressure on my bones, and I was at a good weight last year. I just think last year I still had some lingering issues from when I broke my foot. I'll come in and focus on speed this year."

The Movember project asks participants to begin on Nov. 1 clean-shaven. Blackmon did several updates as his look evolved. When Blackmon started the facial hair project, he thought he would celebrate the start of December with his razor.

But not so fast.

"Well, I don't know," Blackmon said. "It's a few days into December and at this point I've fulfilled my Movember responsibilities. Yet I still have the mustache. I've enjoyed it, to say the least."

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.