Much has been written, debated, discussed, and argued about the Colorado Rockies offseason signing of Ian Desmond to primarily play first base and secondarily provide the club with depth at other positions on the diamond.
We have data on Desmond at shortstop and a season's worth of how he played as an outfielder, but he has yet to play an MLB game at first base, and due to a spring training injury, it looks like we will have to wait until late April or early May to finally get a look.
The most obviously frustrating part about the timing of his fractured hand is that it robs him of precious exhibition time to learn a new position. But manager Bud Black says that Desmond was making strides in leaps and bounds long before they even started playing spring training games.
"When I saw him in the offseason come out to Salt River and practice, here on these fields in January with our coaching staff, I saw a guy that had been practicing the day after he signed as a Rockie," Black said. "He looked good at first base. When he got here officially for spring training, he looked better. He was making great progress to the point we weren't concerned. Great progress."
Black made it clear that he has no doubt Desmond will eventually pick up the position and execute it well. "He's an athlete. He's a baseball player. And when the ball is hit his way, he'll catch it," Black said.
And he reiterated that once he returns, the club intends to play him at first base. While his versatility remains a more than intriguing aspect of his total package, Black says, "I think, for now, it probably makes sense for him to really make first base a priority and get comfortable there. I don't want to move him around. Let's get him locked in on first. He's our first baseman, that was our intent all along."
But, the manager notes, once Desmond is comfortable at his new spot, options really open up. He says he knows what the veteran can do at shortstop and in the outfield. "We get into an extra inning game or something happens where we need to make a move. Easy to make with Ian," Black says. "He's done it before. He's an athletic player."
With renewed optimism that the big splash signging of the offseason could return before the first month of the season is over, both the team and it's manager appear to be in lock step that, whatever delays and whatever adjustment period required, Ian Desmond is still the Colorado Rockies first baseman for 2017.