Ian Desmond makes progress as first baseman despite his injury
scottsdale, ariz.» Ian Desmond’s transformation has hit a detour, not a roadblock.
That’s how the Rockies’ first basemanin-training is looking at things in the aftermath of a broken hand that’s expected to keep him off the field for as long as five more weeks.
“I was definitely making progress at first,” Desmond said. “I was getting more and more comfortable every day. But this is a great opportunity. As a position player, I never really sat and evaluated first basemen. So now I can go in the dugout and watch how Mark (Reynolds) does it.”
Desmond talked with the media for the first time Friday since he was hit by a pitch Sunday during a Cactus League game against Cincinnati. He had surgery Wednesday to repair the second metacarpal in his left hand.
Desmond, who signed a five-year, $70 million contract to join the Rockies in the offseason, has never played first base before, but manager Bud Black said Desmond has made “great progress.”
Desmond’s experience as a shortstop and outfielder, along with his athleticism, leaves Black comfortable that Desmond will soon find his comfort zone at first. Before the injury, there were already signs Desmond is getting there.
On March 7, facing Texas, his former team, Ian Desmond pulled off a nifty play. He came off the bag to catch an off-target throw and then make a backhanded swipe tag on the Rangers’ Hanser Alberto. Desmond made the play with silky smoothness, but there was a lot going on.
“Getting to the bag, with the right timing, is something I’ve worked on,” Desmond said. “Timing was definitely a part of that play. To be able to get in position to allow myself to jump and then evaluate where the runner was. At that point, it becomes more about salvaging the throw.”
Black said Thursday that Desmond could be back playing in four to six weeks. Desmond, who had a plate inserted in his hand, isn’t sure what the exact timeline is, but he vowed to be ready.
“I’m not a doctor, I’m just a first baseman who got drilled, trying to get back as fast as I can,” he said. “We’ll see. They are going to have to do their thing — X-rays and everything — to make sure things are going according to plan. But as far as I’m concerned, whenever they say I’m ready, I’ll be ready.”
Ottavino’s slider. Late-inning reliever Adam Ottavino has not pitched well in his last two Cactus League appearances. He knows it, and it ticks him off, but he’s confident he’ll rebound.
“I’m working on stuff,” he said, noting that his arm feels strong. “I’m trying to find better command with my slider. … I’m a bit off with it right now. And I’m not happy with those walks.”
Over his last 1M innings, Ottavino has given up three runs while walking four and striking out just one. Black, however, is happy with what he’s seen from Ottavino, who projects as a seventh- or eighthinning stopper and sometime closer.
“His velocity is there, the sharpness to his breaking pitches is there, it’s just his command he has to tighten up,” Black said.
Footnotes. Outfielder David Dahl, out with a stress reaction of his sixth rib, is making progress toward returning. He had an MRI on Friday to see how well the bone is healing. “I think we’re getting to the point where David is going to increase his activity,” Black said. …. Right-handers Shane Carle, Rayan Gonzalez and Zach Jemiloa were optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. Gonzalez, who left Wednesday’s game with elbow soreness, is facing the possibility of Tommy John surgery.
The Rockies’ Raimel Tapia slides into third for an RBI triple during the second inning Friday night against the San Francisco Giants. Tapia, who drove in Stephen Cardullo, then scored on Tony Wolters’ single for a 2-0 lead. Darron Cummings, The Associated Press