Road warrior: Blackmon hitting away from Coors

Road warrior: Blackmon hitting away from Coors

ATLANTA -- Rockies center fielder and leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon's offense has become an act that travels.

Entering Saturday night's 4-3 win over the Braves, Blackmon was batting .308 -- including .320 in 67 games since returning from turf toe in his left foot -- with a .372 on-base percentage, 12 home runs and 43 RBIs. As impressive is the improvement in his home-road splits.

Blackmon's ability to produce both at home and on the road makes him valuable to a Rockies club that's trying to climb into the postseason race. Or, since it's that time of year, it could make him a more attractive trade target should the Rockies falter and become a seller.

This season, Blackmon has a slash line of .333/.399/.535 at home and .286/.347/.453 on the road. The .933 and .800 OPS split between home and away, respectively, is a difference but not as great as it has been for some Rockies players who operate in an extreme hitter's atmosphere for half their games then travel to so-called "normal" environments. The road is never actually normal. After spending a few games making adjustments, they have to go back to Coors Field.

Blackmon's solo homer

In 2014 and 2015, respectively, Blackmon turned in OPSs of .915 and .890 at home and .617 and .695 on the road. Blackmon's name has come up in trade reports, especially last offseason, but scouts said the splits made him hard to evaluate. Blackmon attacked the constant requirement of adjusting by honing his mental approach in his first at-bats when the venue changes.

"It's taking the information you get from the first couple of pitches and being able to understand that's what's going to happen," Blackmon said. "Maybe here, the humidity is different than at home. So I can take a couple pitches early in the game and use that to get the feel for the rest of the game, and lock in from there."

The home and road issue is one of many areas where Blackmon has improved over the last three seasons. Although he admits he wasn't a born leadoff hitter, Blackmon did it in the Minors because his managers wanted him to have the extra at-bat per game. He has embraced it because it's where he fits with the Rockies.

Blackmon's patience has improved, and he has a shot to eclipse his career high for home runs (19 in 2014) even though the club increased the height of the right-center wall -- a place that works with his left-handed swing.

"Charlie put a lot of time, a lot of work, to become that prototypical leadoff guy," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He takes a lot of pride in it. You've seen his on-base percentage go up. He's really developed into one of the premier leadoff hitters in the National League.

"There's extra-base hit power [30 tied him for third among NL leadoff men going into Saturday], speed, ability to bunt and play the small game we need to do that. He's worked very hard."

Worth noting

• Outfielder Ryan Raburn, whose grand slam in Friday night's 11-2 victory over the Braves was the Rockies' first slam in a pinch-hit situation since Todd Helton did it May 29, 2012, has been dealing with a left quadriceps strain since trying to go first-to-home in his first Spring Training game. The All-Star break helped.

Raburn's grand slam

"We're here pretty much every day so every day we're doing something with it -- running, hitting," Raburn said. "To have those three days where you're doing nothing, giving your body a break, did me good."

• Weiss said left fielder Gerardo Parra (left high-ankle sprain) increased his activity on Saturday and is close to beginning an injury rehab assignment.

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.