DENVER -- In Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Cardinals, left field Ian Desmond missed a fly ball he seemed to have measured on the warning track that led to a sixth-inning, two-out double for Paul DeJong. The Rockies escaped the frame without damage, and in the bottom of the inning, Desmond bounced back and drove a solo homer to left-center field to provide the winning run for Colorado.
It was indicative both of the fighting spirit that has defined Desmond on the field, but also of the mentality that inspires him off the field and drives his charitable work to build awareness, develop community and raise funds to combat neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow along nerves, bones and skin.
His years of dedication around the disorder earned Desmond his third consecutive nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball’s prestigious award that honors players whose character best represents the game, on and off the field.
“From the minute I got called up to the big leagues, I just felt like I wanted to contribute, help people and try to use my platform for good,” Desmond said. “I’ve been extremely blessed to be here. It’s kind of our calling as professional athletes or people who hold a platform to help in other people’s lives.”
Desmond’s connection to NF started when he got on Twitter in 2012 and heard from a young man asking for prayers as he prepared to go through brain surgery.
“I just reached out to him and said, ‘Hey, man, I’ll help you out. I’ll pray for you,’” Desmond said. “From that point on, we’ve been best friends, and I’ve kind of watched his journey through his time with NF2. It’s been eye-opening.”
Over the years, Desmond has hosted meetups for the “End NF” community at his home ballpark, generally once a homestand. In 2019, he took the unusual step of hosting events in visiting ballparks as well and has met with over 1,000 participants.
“What draws me into the NF community is that these people have the best outlook on life,” Desmond said. “They are the strongest people. They are hands-down what epitomizes their motto of being a fighter. You’ve never seen people fight like these people. It is phenomenal. What a great group of people.”
According to Desmond, the Clemente nomination is the only recognition the two-time All-Star displays at his home.
“I want my kids to grow up knowing, ‘Man, Dad did the most with what he could.’”
“He’s the right guy for that award,” said Rockies vice president for community and retail operations Jim Kellogg. “A lot of players will give money, and a lot of them will do a volunteer project from time to time. This was actually sitting down before the season started, mapping out a schedule, ‘This is the day that I’ll do a meet and greet.’ It’s not about him. It’s about getting those families together so they can support one another.”
Tapia still sore; Dahl progressing
Raimel Tapia was scheduled to bat leadoff Thursday, but was scratched from the lineup after lingering soreness from the foul ball he took off his right knee in Wednesday’s game.
With 20, Tapia is second to Charlie Blackmon (110) for starts at the top of the lineup. Manager Bud Black cited Tapia’s .281 average (109-for-388) as a good tool for a leadoff hitter, but also noted a need to improve his .316 on-base percentage (batting in any spot).
“That’s going to come via the walk,” Black said. “At times he’s a bad ball hitter.”
On another injury note, Black did not sound optimistic about David Dahl's likelihood of returning to the field before the end of the season after a right ankle sprain sidelined him on Aug. 3.
“He’s progressing, but we’re running out of time,” Black said.