MIAMI -- Charlie Blackmon's performance last season when Rockies games still counted in the standings trumped his less-than-spectacular Spring Training numbers and earned him the Opening Night start in center field against the Marlins.
With manager Walt Weiss wanting to match a left-hander up against Marlins standout righty Jose Fernandez, he could have gone with Corey Dickerson, who hit .344 in Spring Training and led the team with 22 hits. But Blackmon performed well in regular playing time last season -- .309 in 82 games.
Blackmon hit .236 during the spring.
"Charlie's got more time out there than Corey does, and to be honest with you, Charlie may have been our best player the last month of [last] season," Weiss said. "He was the right guy to be out there."
While his offensive numbers lagged in Spring Training, Blackmon arrived at camp slightly faster -- "I don't think I look any faster, but I feel faster," he said -- and he already came with center-field skills. The expansive outfield at Marlins Park was part of the decision to start Blackmon.
"Center field is the essence of outfield play," Blackmon said. "It's something I've always liked doing. You're involved in the game and you see exactly how your pitcher is feeling that day, and it's more fun.
"The more I play there, the surer my reads will be. It's like any part of your game, the more reps you get in game situations the better you'll get. I feel comfortable out there."
During camp, with help from first-base coach Eric Young and special outfield instructors Ellis Burks and Larry Walker, Blackmon improved his reads and efficiency.
"That's one thing he worked extremely hard on, and I think he has a better feeling now of how to get that great jump to the right or left," Young said. "You know at Coors Field or this park, too, if you don't get that good jump, the ball could be over your head and all the way to the wall. We were able to show him on video of Spring Training games that by the end, he was getting better jumps."
Weiss will manage the playing time of six outfielders. Corner guys Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer will start most games. Blackmon and Dickerson from the left side, and Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes from the right, will divide starts in center and must provide off-the-bench help. Stubbs is more strictly a center fielder than the others.
"If you have to burn a guy late in the game to get the matchup you need, you can do that," Weiss said. "Those guys can run late in the game. They can hit late in the game. They can play defense late in the game.
"I'm going to play it out [with the six outfielders] and see how it works."
There is just one backup infielder, Charlie Culberson, but Weiss noted that backup catcher Jordan Pacheco has played third, first and second; Cuddyer, who is the backup first baseman, has played second and third in the Majors.
Chatwood scratched from Wednesday start
MIAMI -- The season is just beginning and the Rockies' pitching depth is already being tested.
The club announced before Monday's opener that right-hander Tyler Chatwood will not make his start on Wednesday night because of a slight left hamstring strain. Right-hander Jordan Lyles will be summoned to Miami to replace him.
The Rockies did not immediately announce that Chatwood is going to the 15-day disabled list, but that's likely. Chatwood (8-5, 3.15 ERA last season in 20 starts) suffered the injury running the bases against the Mariners on Friday. He said the next day he didn't expect the injury to knock him out of his start, and he threw a normal bullpen session on Sunday. However, Chatwood's leg bothered him while running on the dirt in spikes, and the Rockies decided to scratch him and limit the risk of a long-term injury.
"I don't think you ever want to miss time, so I don't think it's for the best -- I want to be out there competing with my teammates," said Chatwood, who plans to throw off the mound Tuesday to stay sharp. "Especially in the opening series, you want to be out there. But it's something you can't really control now. Just get better and try to get back on the mound.
"I lobbied, but if I'm not going to be able to run or cover first base, I'm hurting the team."
The club can backdate Chatwood's placement on the 15-day disabled list to Saturday, which would have him eligible to return April 13 against the Giants, which would mean he'd miss just two starts.
Lyles, 23, acquired in a trade with the Astros during the offseason, is 14-29 with a 5.35 ERA in parts of three big league seasons. Lyles went 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA in Spring Training, and he just missed out on the fifth-starter spot.
The Rockies begin the year with two starters injured. Righty Jhoulys Chacin is out until late April at the earliest, but it could be mid-May because of a right shoulder strain. Lefty Franklin Morales beat out Lyles for Chacin's slot.
Logan, Chacin take steps in rehab process
MIAMI -- Two key Rockies pitchers beginning the season on the disabled list -- lefty reliever Boone Logan and righty starter Jhoulys Chacin -- made progress on Monday.
Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said Logan, signed for three years and $16.5 million even though he underwent a left elbow cleanup surgery while with the Yankees at the end of last season, threw 21 pitches in one inning on Monday. The plan is for him to make rehab appearances for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday and Friday. Logan is eligible to be activated from the DL on Saturday, since his placement was backdated to the day after his only Major League Spring Training appearance.
Chacin is expected to be out until anywhere from late April to mid-May because of a right shoulder strain, but the rehab continued to go well Monday when he completed a 25-pitch bullpen session. He'll throw another 25-pitch session on Thursday, possibly with hitters standing in the box, Dugger said. After that, it's possible the hurler will face hitters swinging the bat.
Arenado not fazed by first opener, impending stardom
MIAMI -- Most believe Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is going to need to build a big trophy case.
Arenado will receive the 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award -- the first for a National League rookie third baseman -- at the Rockies' home opener on Friday. But many folks who forecast these situations see him as a future star, and even manager Walt Weiss -- not given to superlatives -- predicted "multiple All-Star Games" in Arenado's career. The third baseman hit .267 last year, but that was with almost no knowledge of the league's pitchers.
Yet Arenado, who turns 23 on April 16, hasn't shown any weight of the expectations. He was even non-plussed by the prospect of his first Opening Day in the Majors. He didn't debut until the end of April last year.
"Honestly, it kind of feels like a continuation of what went on last year," Arenado said. "I'm just here to start the season with these guys. I played with a lot of them last year, so it kind of feels pretty normal. It doesn't feel like it's new, even though it is new."
Being from the Colorado market shields Arenado from some of the hype that would go with coming off a strong rookie year. He's from the Los Angeles area, which has so many celebrities that Arenado really isn't one outside of where he grew up in Lake Forest, Calif. But if he continues the way the Rockies believe -- and a .357 spring with six doubles, three triples and three home runs in 21 games could be an indication -- notice could be coming his way.
"That's out of my control," he said. "I can't worry about that stuff. As long as I'm out there playing and doing my job, all that stuff that hopefully will happen in the future will happen when the time is right. Right now, my focus is playing hard and helping the team win."
Weiss is confident Arenado has the right attitude for stardom.
"He's a baseball player in the truest sense," Weiss said. "He loves to play, loves to practice. He has high expectations for himself. He's always hit. He's going to hit up here. He's going to be productive up here, and we've already seen his defense. He's a star in the making."
Keeping things in stride is a literal goal of Arenado.
"I would say I didn't find a routine it last year," he said. "I would say I may have found it in the offseason, trying to get it together and figure things out. I definitely built on it in the offseason and carried it into Spring Training. It's making sure I do it every day.
"It's not so much one specific thing, just what I need to do every day. We're not talking superstition. We're talking actual routine. I don't have too many superstitions. Sometimes those creep in, but I try to stay away from those."
The Rockies believe he can avoid the pitfalls that come with stardom, as well.
Vying for comeback with Rox, Betancourt throws
MIAMI -- Rafael Betancourt, the Rockies' closer last season until he suffered a right elbow injury in August that required Tommy John surgery, threw long-toss at Marlins Park on Monday. It was the first time he threw from as far as 150 feet. Although he is a free agent, Betancourt spent time at Rockies Spring Training and has said he wants to make the comeback with Colorado.
His plan is to go to extended spring training at the end of this month and play until June, when he would join Rookie-level Class A Grand Junction with the intention of being ready to pitch for the Rockies by season's end.
"It's weird being here on Opening Day, because I'd normally be playing," said Betancourt, who lives in Orlando, Fla. "But I still feel part of the team, and the guys make me feel part of everything. So I'm happy to be here. It's fine."
• Weiss said Brian Jones, the club's video coordinator, will monitor screens and offer advice on replay challenges, but Weiss said the decisions are his. "If something goes wrong, it'll never be Jonesy's fault," the manager said.
• Infielder Paul Janish, who couldn't crack the Opening Day roster despite a strong Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, has agreed to join Triple-A Colorado Springs, the Rockies said.