Ian Desmond headed to Rangers outfield
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Ian Desmond started his transition from one-time All-Star shortstop to everyday left fielder with the Texas Rangers on Monday, when he signed his $8 million, one-year contract and took part in his first workout with the AL West champions.
Desmond said it's a new chapter he's ready to embrace.
Desmond has played shortstop throughout his seven major league seasons, all with the Washington Nationals. The 30-year-old Desmond was an All-Star in 2012 but has started only one of his 927 career games in the outfield.
"As far as swallowing my pride and moving to the outfield, that's not going to be a problem," Desmond said. "Learning the position, I'm obviously a little bit behind, about 7-10 days and in some cases years and years and years, because it's been a long time since I've done this. But I'm going to work as hard as I can."
Josh Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP and a five-time All-Star, will start the season on the disabled list for the Rangers. He is expected to miss at least the first month because of lingering problems with his left knee that was operated on twice last year.
The fact that Desmond hasn't appeared in the outfield in a game since 2010, and that was for only one-third of an inning, posed no concerns to the Rangers in getting the deal done.
General manager Jon Daniels, who spoke to Desmond several times before the deal was complete, said a review of reports on Desmond included many scouts saying in the past that they bet he could play center field. Desmond's willingness to play left field was a key factor in the Rangers signing him.
"It's a really natural fit for us as far as the kind of player we look for, elite athlete, tremendous makeup, and whoever you ask, it's universal, this guy's a big-time competitor, plays hard, runs hard, pushes other players," Daniels said. "It was something that presented itself late in the process that we couldn't pass up. This is a winning piece, a winning player, on a team that expects to win. To add that kind of piece here late in the process, it is a really great fit for us."
Daniels said their goal for Hamilton is to get him healthy and that they expected him to be a strong contributor to the team when he gets back.
Desmond has a .264 career batting average with 110 home runs and 432 RBIs. He won three Silver Slugger awards, but he struggled for much of last season, when he hit .233 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs and made an NL-high 27 errors.
Texas will forfeit its first-round pick in the June amateur draft, No. 19 overall, because Desmond rejected a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals after last season.
The Nationals will get a compensatory pick after the first round since Desmond is going to another team. But Texas also has a compensatory pick in June since right-hander Yovani Gallardo signed with Baltimore on Thursday after turning down a qualifying offer after last season with the Rangers.
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