MIAMI — Ryan McMahon flashed a big smile inside the visitors clubhouse deep within Marlins Park on Thursday afternoon. It’s the same smile he had two seasons ago when he walked into that Colorado Rockies clubhouse as a rookie making his Major League debut.
A lot has changed for both Ryan McMahon and the Colorado Rockies since that July day in 2017 (including his number, as you can see from the photo at the start of this article). He takes the field on Opening Day 2019 as Colorado’s second baseman after putting together a blistering spring that earned him the starting nod. He’s also become a key part of a lineup that is looking to return to the postseason for the third consecutive season, a run that began the same year McMahon made his debut.
So what has changed specifically for McMahon in his journey from wide-eyed rookie to starting second baseman?
“I think I’m less scared. There have been a lot of steps along the way. It’s all been part of a process,” McMahon told me in an exclusive chat right before the Rockies took their first official batting practice of the season. “I’ve come a long way. I’m excited for 2019 and for what this team has ahead of it.”
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Rockies fans are excited to see what McMahon can do to fill the shoes of the departed DJ LeMahieu, both in the field and at the plate. A spring training where he hit .424/.470/.763 will ramp up expectations heading into the season.
McMahon liked what he did in the spring but he knows it also has to count in the real games.
“In spring, I focused on repeating what I was doing. That was my goal,” McMahon said. “I did a good job of it in the spring but now the season is here and I have to carry it over.”
McMahon also knows that the Rockies have to start the season in a place that has been tough for them in the past. As we detailed in this article, Miami has been a house of horrors for the Rockies in recent seasons.
“I don’t know, man,” McMahon said. “There are a lot of excuses you can come up with. We haven’t hit well here in the past but it’s a new year. Things change.”
McMahon said he is excited for what lies ahead but is taking nothing for granted when it comes to his first career Opening Day start.
“Nothing is set in stone. That’s for sure,” McMahon said. “It’s still baseball It’s a very humbling sport. I have to go out there and keep playing my ass off and try to help the team. Whatever happens after that, happens. It’s probably out of my control so I’m just going to focus on what I can do.”
And the feel before that first Opening Day start?
“It’s cool,” McMahon beamed. “I’m going to fall in line and follow the vets and hope we come out of here with a win.”