Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Colorado Rockies

news

Rockies News

Could Desmond return in the outfield?

Special to MLB.com

DENVER -- He hasn't played in a game since a Cactus League appearance nearly six weeks ago, but Ian Desmond continues to make headlines as the Rockies await his debut in purple pinstripes and his first regular-season appearance at first base.

Desmond has earned two All-Star selections, one as a shortstop, where he started for six full seasons with the Nationals, and a second last year after converting to the outfield with the Rangers. The Rockies signed him to start at first base, but after Desmond fractured his left hand in a March 12 Spring Training game, backup first baseman Mark Reynolds has excelled, leading the team with a .339 (21-for-62) average, five homers and 16 RBIs.

View Full Game Coverage

DENVER -- He hasn't played in a game since a Cactus League appearance nearly six weeks ago, but Ian Desmond continues to make headlines as the Rockies await his debut in purple pinstripes and his first regular-season appearance at first base.

Desmond has earned two All-Star selections, one as a shortstop, where he started for six full seasons with the Nationals, and a second last year after converting to the outfield with the Rangers. The Rockies signed him to start at first base, but after Desmond fractured his left hand in a March 12 Spring Training game, backup first baseman Mark Reynolds has excelled, leading the team with a .339 (21-for-62) average, five homers and 16 RBIs.

View Full Game Coverage

"Isn't that a good thing when players come back?" manager Bud Black said of the challenge of fitting a returning player into a lineup that has clicked in his absence. "It's a good thing, not a dilemma. Do we have to shuffle some things at times? Absolutely, but, hey, I can't wait to get Ian Desmond back. You know why? He's a good player."

As Reynolds keeps pacing the first-place Rockies, speculation has grown about whether the Rockies would consider shuffling Desmond back to the outfield, and with Trevor Story off to a slow start, going 9-for-61 (.148) with 29 strikeouts in his first 18 games, Black responded to questions about whether the Rockies are having internal conversations about Desmond playing in the outfield or at shortstop.

"Yes -- not so much short, no," Black said. "We talk about our players all the time, about what we can do to maximize our players and our team.

"Ian, specifically, is one of those guys we talk about because of the potential versatility that he brings to the Rockies, not only this year, but in coming years. He's not even here yet, he hasn't had BP on the field, but it's good to talk about, because that means he's getting closer."

Desmond hit off a tee in the cage over the weekend and is expected to start taking batting practice next week. With the Rockies heading to Arizona at the end of their homestand, Desmond has the opportunity to get heightened work in extended spring camp at the Rockies' Salt River Fields complex before a potential rehab assignment in May.

Though Black recalled David Eckstein talking him out of the need for a rehab assignment in San Diego, Desmond missed roughly half of the Cactus League season, as opposed to Eckstein's in-season injury.

"More than likely, Ian will go out," Black confirmed.

Worth noting

Black said Jeff Hoffman is fine-tuning his curve, slider and changeup. In Hoffman's start Friday for Triple-A Albuquerque, the righty gave up four earned runs on eight hits with a walk and four strikeouts in six innings.

"We worked on some delivery stuff in spring," Black said. "Now it's just a matter of repetition. He needs innings, but there's a lot to like about Jeff Hoffman."

Hoffman's 2,800 RPM average on his curve ranked among the MLB leaders in '16, according to Statcast™, but batters slugged .450 off it with an average exit velocity of 86.9 mph.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.

Colorado Rockies, Ian Desmond