“As a position player, I never really sat and evaluated first basemen,” Desmond said. “So now I can go in the dugout and watch how Mark does it. Mark is a great first baseman; he had a great year last year. I can watch the other guys out here who are all very good at their jobs.”
Desmond’s transition to first base after playing shortstop for seven seasons with the Nationals and spending last year in center field with the Rangers was a subject of much attention before the injury.
Desmond sustained the injury on Sunday when he was hit by a pitch, and Dr. Donald Sheridan surgically screwed a plate into the bone on Wednesday. The following day, manager Bud Black announced the timetable for Desmond to return to the lineup, although when Desmond was asked about it, he said, “I’m not a doctor; I’m just a first baseman who got drilled, trying to get back as fast as I can.”
Desmond is happy with his progress at first base. The fundamentals are going smoothly, and he has moved to finer points, such as being more controlled in his movements.
“Probably the biggest thing is just timing,” he said. “I was sprinting as fast as I could to get to first base. Then, watching some of these other guys … I got the opportunity to watch [the Royals’ Eric] Hosmer in the [World Baseball Classic], watch what he’s doing, got to watch [Anthony] Rizzo when I was playing against the Cubs and then watching Mark, they glide to first base.
“I was just a little bit too aggressive — just little things like that. I was trying to pick up as much as I can. Everything is new. It’s all learning.”
In addition to studying and rehabbing, Desmond takes meshing with his new club seriously.
“Same thing, without being able to do the baseball stuff — that’s be a good teammate, take care of my body and try to get to know the other guys,” he said. “That was probably objective No. 1 coming in here for Spring Training. … That’s still on top of the list.”
Black said that Desmond is making “great progress, to the point that we weren’t concerned at all about his ability to handle the position.”
Desmond was hit by Reds rotation hopeful Rookie Davis, who was pitching with an ankle injury and didn’t have full control of his pitch. But Desmond, who has had two hamate injuries, doesn’t feel cursed.
“It’s part of baseball,” he said. “I’ve been really fortunate in my career to avoid things like this. Who am I to think that I’m above getting hurt?”
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.