Desmond bracing for LF trial by 'fire'

Set for first start at new position Friday vs. Dodgers

March 3rd, 2016

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Forget any idea of easing Ian Desmond into left field. He is scheduled to make his first start there on Friday, when the Rangers face the Dodgers in a Cactus League game in Surprise.

He will be out there just five days after joining the Rangers with the idea of switching from shortstop to left. Desmond's first workout was on Monday, when the Rangers held their intrasquad game.

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"He is ready for the challenge," manager Jeff Banister said. "We have already talked to him. ...He's ready to go, so let's go. He is a good enough athlete, he'll pick it up pretty quick."

Desmond had a simple answer when asked if he was already comfortable in left.

"No," he said. "But the one way to get comfortable is by fire. You've got to get out there. It's a new team. Even if I was playing shortstop, I'd still be anxious and have jitters."

Desmond said he hasn't played left field since his first Little League tryout, when he was 10 years old. His entire professional career, since being drafted by the Expos in 2004, has been spent almost exclusively at shortstop.

"There is no easy position," Desmond said. "Every position is a challenge. I understand I am way behind. I am asking as many questions as I can. There is no shame in reaching out and asking, what am I doing?"

Denard Span and Torii Hunter are among the Major League outfielders he has called. But he said the best piece of advice came from Rick Ankiel, who also had to make a significant position switch. Ankiel reached the Major Leagues as a pitcher, then suffered through control issues and had to switch to the outfield to extend his career. He played with Desmond on the Nationals in 2011-12.

"He said it's going to be a challenge, but you have to allow yourself to forgive yourself," Desmond said. "You've got to be able to laugh stuff off. It's not because it's not serious, but it's a challenge, and it's not going to be easy."

Desmond has already put in much work with field coordinator Jayce Tingler and Minor League outfielder coach Dwayne Murphy, a six-time Gold Glove winner for the Athletics in 1980-85.

"I am sucking it up as much as I can so I can make it as smooth as I can," Desmond said.

He has also been warned about left field at Globe Life in Arlington and the sun shining down hard in the early innings.

"Oh, swell," Desmond said. "Just what I needed to hear. Let me go practice that."