Desmond takes first swings since hand surgery

Desmond takes first swings since hand surgery

LOS ANGELES -- The debut of the Rockies' biggest offseason acquisition remains on hold, and possibly, the position where he'll play.

The Rockies signed Ian Desmond to a five-year, $70 million contract over the winter and said the career shortstop and recent outfielder would be their starting first baseman.

Then in a spring game March 12, Desmond was hit by a pitch and fractured a bone in his left hand. On Wednesday, he swung a bat for the first time in the cage, albeit without hitting a ball.

But while Desmond has been out, Mark Reynolds has flourished at first base. He entered Wednesday's game against the Dodgers tied with Nolan Arenado for the Rockies' lead in RBIs (11) and was second with four home runs.

So where does Desmond play when he returns?

"He's going to play a lot of first base," said Rockies manager Bud Black. "We signed Ian knowing that his versatility was paramount. We look forward to that not only this year but in the coming years."

Desmond, 31, spent most of his career as a shortstop but last season played center and a little in left field for the Rangers. He has never played first base.

The Rockies had Reynolds, 33, last season and then signed Desmond to play first. Reynolds was originally signed to a Minor League contract. Black was unconcerned as to where Desmond will ultimately play.

"He views himself as a ballplayer," Black said. "That was the first thing he told me over the phone when we talked. He played shortstop in Washington. He played left, in center with the Rangers. He played first with us.

"That tells me that this guy can move all over the diamond. He's a team player. He'll do what's best for the Rockies."

Desmond is doing is best to be patient while bouncing back from his injury.

"I'm getting there," Desmond said. "My time will come. We all trust the training staff. You just have to hurry up and wait."

Black said Desmond is doing full field work and expects him to progress to hitting off a tee soon.

"He's getting closer," Black said. "When a guy gets a bat in his hand, that's a good thing."

Worth noting

• Reliever Chad Qualls (right forearm tightness) threw a bullpen session Wednesday and Black said he would likely next go out on a rebab assignment.

"We'll probably send him out on another rehab assignment to continue strengthening his forearm and finetune his pitching," Black said. "He's getting real close too. If we need Chad, we know he's almost ready."

Greg Holland allowed two runs in the ninth inning Tuesday, but he held on to earn his eighth save in his eight appearances since joining the Rockies in the offseason. The only other pitcher in Major League history to record a save in each of his first eight or more career appearances with a franchise is Lee Smith, who earned a save in each his first 12 appearances with the Orioles in 1994.

Holland secures the Rockies' win

Gerardo Parra returned to the lineup on Wednesday. He sat out Tuesday's game after rejoining the team following paternity leave, but he did enter in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement.

"I see him as a complete type of player," Black said of Parra. "I think he's going to hit for average. He has a little pop. He plays good defense and has a good throwing arm. If you put his tools on a scouting scale, they're all solid. Last year he didn't play like he's capable, he'd be the first to admit it. This year he's off to a nice start."

Steve Dilbeck is a contributor to MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.