Blackmon flexing muscles as Rockies host White Sox

DENVER -- Before the Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox play Saturday night, Charlie Blackmon will be out for early hitting. With each swing, the Rockies' center fielder will be intent on doing one thing. He will be trying to hit home runs.

Blackmon will participate in the Home Run Derby on Monday at Miami and start for the National League the following day in the All-Star Game. Rockies bullpen coach Darren Holmes, who regularly throws batting practice to Blackmon, will serve as his pitcher in the Home Run Derby and will throw to him Saturday. Blackmon and Holmes had a practice session before a game earlier in the week.

Blackmon hit his 19th homer Friday night in Colorado's 12-4 romp over the White Sox. He is hitting .318 with 60 RBI, 70 runs scored and a .953 OPS -- numbers more typical of a middle-of-the-order slugger than a leadoff hitter. Blackmon will be matched against Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger in the first round of the Home Run Derby.

"There's a lot obvious choices," Blackmon said. "I may not be the most obvious of choices to put in there. But I'm glad to be there, nonetheless.

"I don't arrive at home runs by trying to hit home runs, so I'll have to figure out exactly what I'm going to do to hit home runs. A lot of times that doesn't mean trying to pull and swing harder. So I'll have to figure out what the best thing for me to do to put myself in a position to hit home runs."

The last Rockies player to participate in the Home Run Derby was Justin Morneau in 2014. Blackmon said that upon winning the fan vote and being named to the All-Star team, Morneau texted congratulations.

"So I texted him," Blackmon said, "and asked him if he had any advice for me. He just replied: 'Win it.' So I guess I'm going to try to win it."

On Saturday, Jeff Hoffman (5-1, 4.01) will make his first interleague appearance for Colorado. Left-hander Jose Quintana (4-8, 4.45) will start for the White Sox. He's 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in one career start at Coors Field on April 8, 2014, the only time he has faced the Rockies.

White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia, the team's lone representative on the American League All-Star team, did not play Friday and is not expected to play until Sunday. He is recovering from a sprained right middle finger, the result of getting jammed while lining out on his second at-bat Wednesday at Oakland.

"Sunday for sure," Garcia said before Friday's game. "I can't grab my bat because of a little inflammation, and I don't want to risk it at this point. Today I feel better with my finger. I can close my hand right now. Yesterday I couldn't. That means I'm getting better."

Garcia returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing five games due to left knee soreness. He is 2-for-31 in his past eight games, a tailspin that has dropped his average to .313 in 77 games with 11 homers, 51 RBI and an .858 OPS.

Garcia, 26, is a first-time All-Star, who won't be sharing the experience with any of his Chicago teammates.

"You're sending a representative for the organization, a young man who has worked really, really hard to get where he is," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "He deserves it. A little exclamation point to what he's done to this point. We're looking forward to seeing him there."
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