Desmond not concerned by slow start

Veteran slugger hasn't found his 'feel' yet, but history suggests it'll come

April 21st, 2018

DENVER -- It's no longer about hand placement for struggling Rockies veteran . It's about feel -- hands, body, swing, whatever -- and the feel isn't good right now.

The numbers suggest that. He entered Saturday with a .153 batting average, did not start against the Cubs at Coors Field and struck out as a pinch-hitter in the Rockies' 5-2 win. After lowering his hands in his stance during the offseason, the hands have crept back upward in his search to find comfort at the plate.

For now, all he has going for him is a track record that says he tends to struggle early. It also says he's capable of a turnaround.

"As a hitter, I am all feel," Desmond said before going to the batting cage for his hitting routine Saturday. "I'm not mechanical. When I feel it, it's really good, and when I don't feel it, I'm not good, generally, and there's some grinding in between there.

"So right now, I'm just looking for the feel and am less concerned with what the [mechanism] is. If I raise my hands up and I feel good, then I'm going to do that. If it feels good down, I'm going to do that. I'm just trying to find the feel and lock it in, and hang on to it as long as I can. But it's elusive right now."

Desmond is part of an offense that entered Saturday last in the National League in batting average and next to last in on-base percentage. The Rockies' faithful seems to have grown impatient with Desmond in the second year of a five-year, $70 million contract. He has hit .274 with a lower than expected seven homers and 40 RBIs while being limited to 95 games by left hand and right calf injuries.

Whatever is ailing Desmond -- a two-time All-Star and frequent postseason participant with the Nationals, Rangers and last year with the Rockies -- the expectations of a fan base that hasn't seen his star-quality production are not among them, in his mind.

"As much as I appreciate the fans coming out and buying tickets, I'm not worried about anything except trying to get that feel back," Desmond said. "If the feel comes back, that's all that matters. That'll take care of itself, period."

Asked if he's feeling pressure regarding the contract, he said, "My sole focus is to go out there and win baseball games."

Some of Desmond's confidence comes from the fact April has usually been his worst month, including a .236 career average (his average is .266 or above in all other months). Desmond was 1-for-15 during a four-game series in Washington, but in his last at-bat, he lifted his hands higher and hit a go-ahead homer off . But the feel didn't stay; he is 0-for-14 since.

"Obviously, there are certain times of the year that are easier and harder," Desmond said. "By no means have I ever been a person who's going to lay April on fire throughout my career. So I need to identify: Is it the early season or is it the adjustment?"

Desmond can rely on his between-games work routine and be patient, because he has done it before.

"It could be one cage session. It could be five minutes from now when I go in the cage. I'm hoping that's the case," said Desmond. "Every day I hold out that hope. I know it's going to come back.

"This is my 15th year in professional baseball. For 15 years, I've gone through this where it's like, 'Is it going to come back? Yeah, it's going to come back.' Then it does, and it's an afterthought."

CarGo hoping to return soon

, out of the lineup for the second straight day due to a right hamstring strain, took batting practice and is hoping to be back on the field soon. With facing a four-game suspension that is currently under appeal, Gonzalez realizes his condition has to improve soon. The cold, wet conditions don't help.

"That doesn't help my cause, but I'm trying to do anything possible to get out there as soon as possible," Gonzalez said. "But if you have issues with your legs, playing in snow or rain is not going to help. What's important is the team gets my best version."

Parra looking to heat up

Parra hopes his opposite-way, lefty-vs.-lefty single off Mike Montgomery in the eighth inning of Friday night's 16-5 loss to the Cubs is a jumpstart. Parra had gone 1-for-9 against the Pirates in three games and scuffled before the hit.

"For me, when I hit it the other way, I'm back. I feel better," said Parra, who said he doesn't believe the pending suspension is affecting him. "That's my best point, taking it the other way."