DENVER — Colorado Rockies infielder Ryan McMahon always wanted to play baseball. A two-sport star at football powerhouse Mater Dei, he could’ve played quarterback at a couple of Pac-12 schools but he never truly cared to follow in the line of Matt Barkley, Colt Brennan or Matt Leinart.
The joyful 24-year-old with a legendary smile jolted back through the Colorado Rockies clubhouse at 20th and Blake on Thursday. His teammate’s dog shedding on him for an entire flight the night prior or his girlfriend causing him to miss a playoff overtime Colorado Avalanche game on the way back from the airport did not break his spirit.
For Ryan McMahon, he was just happy to get back to baseball.
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Coming off a short injured list stint for an arm contusion, McMahon noted how he felt completely in rhythm before suffering the injury. His at-bats backed his words. Knocking in five RBI in his first career multi-home run game in a 6-2 Thursday win, McMahon announced to Denver that he’s real … and he’s spectacular.
"“I had a lot of time on my hands the past few days,” McMahon said. “I was ready to go.”"
Given the talent that surrounds McMahon in batting champion Charlie Blackmon, Silver Sluggers Nolan Arenado and Daniel Murphy and what the Rockies gave up to get him in the lineup in batting champions DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez, there’s an expectation for him. This year, it’s not just one irregular evening that McMahon can win with a heroic rookie moment. In 2019, there’s hope that he can be the X-factor who can take the Rockies over the top.
"“No, I didn’t feel pressure (with them gone),” McMahon said. “That’s kudos to our vets here. They lead by example. It stunk to see those guys go. But the veterans here make it easy. Competition brings the best out of you and that’s how I looked at it more than pressure.”"
A first-round pick and top prospect, McMahon had a rocky road through the minor leagues that finished with excellence. That translated over to the majors where he did the same but found his stride in July after a few times up and down. McMahon finished his last 44 games over 2018 with a .752 OPS.
It was a big but necessary risk for the Rockies to save bank by banking on a do-it-all left-handed-hitting stud athlete with an infectious personality.
It’s too early to tell if Jeff Bridich’s bet is good one. But here’s a sign that it might be.
Following the game on Thursday, McMahon came back into the clubhouse with a protein shake and a smile. His sole focus for Friday was trying to repeat all the steps that he had took today.
McMahon’s potential is endless, his smile reverberates throughout the purple and the hope is that he both lengthens the lineup and becomes a star to supplement Arenado and Trevor Story.