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Former Rockies teammates proud of DJ LeMahieu

DJ LeMahieu of the Yankees singles during the

DJ LeMahieu of the Yankees singles during the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Yankee Stadium on Friday, July 19, 2019 in the Bronx. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

At last week’s All-Star Game in Cleveland, members of the Rockies who know DJ LeMahieu best — and there were four of them on the National League roster — found the questions somewhat humorous.

During media availability, all of them in some way, shape or form were asked questions about LeMahieu, a Rockie from 2012-18 who was called “the silent assassin” there by admiring teammates.  

It seemed as if those Rockies faced more questions about LeMahieu, who signed a two-year, $24 million free-agent deal with the Yankees during the offseason, than about their club and its push for an NL wild-card spot.

“I think I’ve answered more questions about DJ than anything about the Rockies, Nolan [Arenado] or anything I’ve got going on,” Rockies All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon said with a smile.

He added later: “DJ’s the guy and everybody’s figured out how awesome he is and how good he is at baseball, and now they want to know where he came from. Me and a few other guys know that he’s been a really good player for a long time. I think it’s great that the baseball world is now getting to see the guy that we’ve seen the last [seven] years.”

Blackmon, a close friend of LeMahieu’s, sounded similar notes Friday afternoon before the Rockies started a three-game series at the Stadium (LeMahieu has gone 5-for-9 with a walk, four runs scored and two RBIs in the first two games).

“DJ won a batting title, a couple Gold Gloves [at second base], he was an All-Star, did all that kind of stuff before he got to New York,” Blackmon said. “And then it seems like everybody’s surprised that he’s a good player. I guess New York really likes New York, and if you don’t do it in New York, it doesn’t count. And to an extent, I understand that. And, also, the Rockies aren’t the biggest market, so there’s maybe not a lot of reason for Yankees fans to know a whole lot about the Rockies.”

LeMahieu, unquestionably the Yankees’ MVP to this point, had three hits Saturday and is hitting an American League-best .334 with 13 home runs and a career-high 67 RBIs. He is 37-for-85 (.435) with runners in scoring position, 21-for-48 (.438) with two outs and runners in scoring position and 9-for-12 with the bases loaded. 

A three-time Gold Glove winner at second with the Rockies, LeMahieu has performed well there this season and also showed similar standout glovework when called upon to start at third and even first.

Blackmon’s comments should not be construed as bitterness. Far from it, in fact. He and his teammates could not be happier that LeMahieu, already as respected in the Yankees' clubhouse as he was with the Rockies despite not saying much, has gotten the attention he has.

“He deserves everything that’s coming to him and he deserves the recognition because he is such a great player,” said Blackmon, a four-time All-Star. “I’m happy to see him thrive and do so well in such a great place. I’m excited that other people know how good he is too, and it’s not just our secret.”

Blackmon also is pleased to see LeMahieu’s success because both players to a degree in their careers have been tagged with the unwanted “product of Coors Field” label that gets affixed to many players who put up good offensive numbers while playing their home games in the ultimate hitter’s ballpark.

“That’s an offensive park, so it’s easy to look at a player and just assume when they leave an offensive park, they’re going to have a bit of a drop-off,” Blackmon said. “If anything, it seems like the opposite for DJ … I think that [LeMahieu’s success] helps the whole ‘Coors Field effect’ argument. I think good hitters are going to be good hitters and figure it out no matter where they play.”

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