Colorado Rockies morning after: C.J. Cron making teams pay for slighting him

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 16: C.J. Cron #25 of the Colorado Rockies circles the bases after hitting a home run against the Chicago Cubs in the seventh inning at Coors Field on April 16, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 16: C.J. Cron #25 of the Colorado Rockies circles the bases after hitting a home run against the Chicago Cubs in the seventh inning at Coors Field on April 16, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Slowly, but surely, C.J. Cron of the Colorado Rockies is making teams pay for passing on him two years ago.

After signing a minor-league contract with Colorado prior to the 2021 season, Cron went on to have a breakout season for the Rockies a year ago before inking a two-year contract with the team in October for the 2022 and 2023 campaigns.

On Saturday night, Cron launched a pair of tape-measure home runs while knocking in three runs to highlight an 11-hit attack as the Rox bolted to a seven-run lead before settling for a 9-6 victory against the Chicago Cubs in front of 37,476 fans at Coors Field.

“I think nobody really wanted me,” Cron said in reference to signing as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies (6-2) last year.

“That’s not the best feeling. But the Rockies made it abundantly clear they wanted me to play first base for them. It was a great opportunity. I thought, for me, having the chance to finally play every day for the first time in my career, it was special. I signed that two-year deal as quick as I possibly could. I wanted to come back and super glad I did. It’s been great so far.”

Each of Colorado Rockies 1B C.J. Cron’s two homers traveled more than 400 feet.

C.J. Cron’s first homer of the night for the Colorado Rockies was a two-run shot, was a 466-foot blast that cleared the left field stands and hit the concrete pavilion beyond the stands before bouncing off a brick concession stand in that area.

Cron’s second roundtripper, a solo shot to lead off the seventh inning, didn’t travel as far—423 feet—but was well struck nonetheless, again to left field.

Colorado manager Bud Black, during his comments to media—including Rox Pile—after the game, marveled at the two monstrous blasts, which marked the 14th multi-homer game for Cron in his career and third with the Rox.

“There’s a little awe factor there,” Black said. “Probably not a thousand feet of homers there but close,” he added of Cron’s fourth and fifth homers of the season, which tie the Rockies first baseman with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Major League lead this season.

“They were bombs. He hits them a long way when he gets them. Those two tonight were examples of that.”

Black talked about what the Rockies saw in Cron before the team signed him to the Minor League deal a year ago.

“I felt, with our front office, that given the opportunity to play and play a lot—play the field—would benefit him,” the manager said.

“He’s got a wonderful personality. He’s a veteran player. He’s got great perspective. He’s great for the guys. Keeps it loose but yet intense….He’s an integral part of our group and I think he’s cherishing that.”

A year ago, Cron set career bests for games played (142), runs (70), hits (132), doubles (31) and runs batted in (92) while topping the Rockies with 28 homers.

In the second half of the 2021 campaign, he slashed .307/.386/.588 with 19 doubles, 16 home runs, and 57 RBIs. He was selected as the National League Player of the Month for August.

“I think the second half of last year I really just kind of settled in,” Cron said. “Being on five teams in five years isn’t easy, trying to meet everyone again and doing everything. So being able to come back here for a second year, I felt comfortable from day one. I think I am kind of showing how I can play when I play every day.”

Cron still thinks there is room for improvement with his skill set.

“No, I think I can do a little bit better, obviously,” he said. “That’s just the competitor in me. I think you can always get better, no matter what. It was really nice to have a great team outing tonight scoring nine runs. Everyone one through nine has been contributing. It’s been awesome to watch.”

Seven Colorado players had at least one hit on Saturday night with Connor Joe and Alan Trejo joining Cron with two hits each. Trejo followed up his go-ahead three-run homer from a night earlier with the first multi-hit game of his career by going 2-for-4 at the plate while driving in two runs with a pair of run-scoring singles.

Kris Bryant saw his string of having hit safely in his first seven games with the Rox come to an end after going hitless in three at-bats. Bryant was removed midway through the game, according to Black, for precautionary reasons when the left fielder had a quadricep tighten up on him.

Antonio Senzatela (1-0) earned the victory on the mound, the first win for a Colorado starting pitcher this season, allowing seven hits and one earned run through five innings.

The right-hander also came up with his first career pickoff of a baserunner when he nabbed Jonathan Villar of the Cubs (4-4) at first base in the first inning.

After allowing just three earned runs in 31.1 innings for an MLB-best 0.86 ERA entering the game, the Rockies bullpen was touched for five runs (four earned). Daniel Bard came on to hurl a scoreless ninth inning for his fourth save of the season and second in as many nights.

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The teams conclude their four-game series at 1:10 p.m. (Mountain time) Sunday with Austin Gomber (0-0, 5.79 ERA) slated to start for the Colorado Rockies against Chicago’s Drew Smyly (1-0, 0.00). The Rockies would capture the series with a victory Sunday after having been victorious in Games 2 and 3.