Upon return, Blackmon plans to utilize speed on bases

Upon return, Blackmon plans to utilize speed on bases

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon said Monday his slight abdominal injury should heal well enough for him to make his Cactus League debut by midweek. When he does play, expect him to push for stolen-base opportunities.

Last April, when he hit .374 and was on base at a .418 clip, Blackmon was 7-for-9 on steal attempts. But when he tailed off to .257/.286 in May, his zeal to steal also lessened, as he was 3-for-4. But as the year progressed, Blackmon gained knowledge of pitchers through experience and study, and he finished the year 28-for-38. His speed and smooth stride could make him even more of a threat this year.

It starts in spring, Blackmon said.

"I'm going to try to get all facets of my game sharp in Spring Training," the outfielder said. "I expect to run a little bit -- open up the playbook a little."

Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "You'll see him do that down here. We don't want to run guys into the ground in Spring Training. But Charlie has a very good feel for what he needs to do. He wants to be a well-rounded player.

"He's a player with a lot of offensive range. He can hit the ball in the seats [19 homers in 2014], give you an extra-base hit, can play the short game, steal a base. He's trying to become more consistent in that range."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.