From the moment that Ian Desmond was signed to be the primary first baseman for the Colorado Rockies in the offseason, there have been questions. After all, it’s a position he has never played in organized baseball and now he is expected to be Colorado’s answer at the position.
On Monday, Colorado manager Bud Black reaffirmed his commitment to Desmond, stating this was not “an experiment” and his belief that the 31-year-old veteran could handle the position.
“We’re not looking at it as an experiment,” Black said. “I’m not worried about the physical aspect of him playing first. Catching a grounder or underhanding the ball to the pitcher covering first or him handling bunt plays or him handling cutoff and relays. He’s going to be fine. The thing that I worry about is just his comfort level initially, even through spring training and into the early part of the season when games count.
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“I have no concern. Ian has said that playing shortstop, he knows how important first base is. He’s had some very good first basemen defensively like Adam LaRoche. I think throughout his career, even in the minor leagues, he’s had some guys who were maybe below average first basemen. He knows the importance of that and he takes it seriously. His athleticism, his ability and hands to pick a ball and move around a bag, he’ll get more accustomed to that every day.”
With Desmond’s eight years of Major League experience in the outfield and middle infield, will Colorado still use him in those positions in 2017? Black said it’s very possible, especially if a game during the season were to go into extra innings.
“The primary focus will be on getting him comfortable and the repetitions at first base. The greater majority of his action will be at first base,” Black said about Desmond at spring training. “Will he put on an outfielder’s glove or maybe a middle infielder’s glove during the course of the spring? Yes, but whether you see him in games, we don’t know yet. Initially, no. We have to prepare for his versatility as it relates to the potential of extra-inning games and his maneuverability.
“To see him start a game in the outfield or in the infield besides first, we have not talked about that at length yet. We’ve discussed it internally on how to use him but our primary focus is first base.”
Desmond will start the season as Colorado’s first baseman. After that, Black said on Monday that the depth chart at the position would shake out with Desmond, followed by Mark Reynolds, Gerardo Parra, Jordan Patterson, Stephen Cardullo and Ryan McMahon.