Colorado Rockies right fielder Charlie Blackmon (19) hits a ground rule double against the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field earlier this month. (Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)
ATLANTA — Charlie Blackmon is making a third trip to Turner Field, but his return to Atlanta never gets old for the Colorado outfielder, or his family and friends.
“I’ve got way too many people here,” he said before the series opener on Monday night. “It’s a blessing really. I’m thankful to have that many people who care enough about me to come watch. Tons of family, tons of friends. I definitely enjoy playing here.”
Blackmon had a four-hit game against the Braves last September, one of the highlights of his young career. But not all of his moments back in Atlanta have been good ones.
The former North Gwinnett and Georgia Tech standout broke a bone in his right foot on July 7, 2011, while running the bases — ending his first major league season after a month.
“That was tough,” Blackmon said. “I was just getting going.”
Worse yet, favoring his broken foot later may have contributed to a problem with his left big toe that put him back on the disabled list to start the 2012 season. He hit .289 with six home runs, 37 RBIs and 23 doubles in 76 games as a minor-leaguer last year before earning an August call-up back to the Rockies.
He got off to a slow start last season with Colorado, but hit his stride late in the season with a .361 average his final 29 major-league games of 2012. He had two homers, eight RBIs and five doubles during that span.
“I think I finally got over the foot injuries after the All-Star break last year,” Blackmon said. “I played before that, but I wasn’t 100 percent. But I feel good now.”
Like the previous two years, though, he has split time between the majors and minors this season.
Blackmon, 27, homered on Mother’s Day in his first game after being promoted from Colorado Springs for to replace injured Michael Cuddyer, but was returned to Class AAA at the end of May after hitting .240 in 12 games.
Then the second-round draft pick in 2008 was called back again in early July and was 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBIs while also making a sliding catch in a victory at San Diego.
Blackmon had hit .424 in his last nine games with Colorado Springs and followed the two-hit game in San Diego with two more hits in his next game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
“I swung the ball well when I first got back,” he said.
But Blackmon was just 4-for-21 since after striking out as a pinch hitter against the Braves on Monday night, his average falling to .233.
When Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler and Cuddyer are all healthy, playing time is hard to come by.
“We’ve got three really good guys in the outfield right now, so I have to put in the extra preparation to be ready when they need me,” Blackmon said. “Not playing every day is something you have to adjust to.”