Spring 2021 Magazine

Rockies' Charlie Blackmon grateful to be playing after getting 'blindsided' by positive COVID test

The Colorado Rockies received a welcome addition to their summer training camp at Coors Field this week when outfielder Charlie Blackmon was cleared by MLB to resume baseball activities. The 34-year-old four-time All-Star tested positive for COVID-19 before the league’s official return, but because he still had symptoms (fever, body aches and a cough) when clubhouses reopened July 1, Blackmon was subject to MLB’s policies for handling the coronavirus.

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He was able to submit two separate negative tests at least 24 hours apart, and pass other requirements like being approved by a committee of league representatives, so he was able to rejoin his teammates.

“I was blindsided by the positive result,” Blackmon told reporters this week. “I knew I felt sick and as a precaution, I decided to get tested because I don’t want to be the person who infects other people. Honestly, I was not expecting to test positive. But I can’t trace it back to this encounter or this restaurant or this person because at that point we were being pretty safe — take-out food, our circle was pretty small, we were wearing masks, washing my hands. I really don’t know how I contracted it. I wish I did because I would know something about it.”

Blackmon is among the first to navigate MLB’s quarantine guidelines and return to play, and others — like Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris — hope to follow suit soon. Teams begin exhibition games on Saturday, with the regular season set to start July 23.

Blackmon expects to be ready to go by the time Colorado’s season gets underway, as he described his symptoms as being like a mild flu, and he said he’s been without symptoms for at least two weeks.

“I ask for a grateful heart every day and even when it seems tough, you know, you should rejoice in being tested,” Blackmon told the Christian Broadcasting Network in 2017. “Everything needs to be an opportunity in my eyes and not an obstacle.”

His faith in Christ gives him a different perspective on the game of baseball.

“For me spiritually realizing that, you know, baseball is something that I spend a lot of time doing but you can’t turn baseball into an idol, what you derive your self-worth from,” Blackmon told CBN. “It has to be something you do, not who you are. And once I figured all those things out, honestly baseball seemed a lot smaller to me, with the ups and downs and the struggles of failure that are going to happen, inevitably, within the game of baseball.”

Blackmon, a career .304 hitter in nine MLB seasons, has made the NL All-Star team each of the past three years. As he has matured as a player and a Christian, he says he has learned to hold success and failure more loosely. The focus he keeps on his faith helps, as he’s a part of Bible studies with fellow teammates.

“The baseball culture hasn’t made Jesus very cool,” Blackmon told Sports Spectrum in 2018. “You’re going against the grain in a sense, but we have quite a few Christians on the team and we have a Bible study. We have a good chaplain and we have a pretty good sense of community on the team.”

As Blackmon grows in his faith, he aims to be a Christ-like example for anyone he encounters.

“[God’s] grace is something that I try to understand every day. But it’s hard to comprehend,” he told CBN. “I try and learn more about Him every day. And I just want to represent our God in what I do, on the field, how I treat people and what I’m thinking all the time also. I think that’s very important.”

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