McMahon Faces Big Test in Final Days of Spring

SCOTTSDALE – Ryan McMahon has made an impression this spring.

The 23-year-old ranked the No. 2 prospect in the Rockies system has delivered at the plate. He has been impressive in the field at first base and third base. He has made it clear he will be a part of the Rockies future.

The question is: How soon does the future begins?

The next two weeks will provide the answer.

With the return of Carlos Gonzalez, the battle for spots on the Rockies season-opening roster has tightened up. Gonzalez will return to right field with Gerardo Parra expected to move back to left field.

Following that line of thinking, Ian Desmond would be the likely move back to first base, the position he was signed to play a year ago only to have that plan interrupted when he suffered a broken hand during spring training in what became the first of three trips Desmond made to the disabled list.

Manager Bud Black isn’t making any proclamations, however.

He wants to see more of McMahon, who went into Monday’s game against the D-Backs hitting .366 with five doubles and a home run. And with Desmond starting at first base, McMahon was at third, a position he wouldn’t likely see much of during the regular season in light of the presence of Nolan Arenado, who has started all but 15 of the Rockies 486 regular-season games the last three years.

“You look at the total package,” manager Bud Black said. “You look at the offensive side. You look at the defensive side. You look at the at-bats, and the bat speed. You look at what he does against certain fellows who are in the big-league picture.”

And in the next two weeks, when rosters are cut down and teams get focused on the opening of the season the last weekend in March there will be more of those “fellows who are in the big-league picture” on the mound later in the game than there has been.

“You want to see how things go when the pitchers tighten down and get ready for the season,” said Black. “Those at-bats matter.”

Black paused.

“This is his third big-league camp,” Black said. “He has a comfort level interacting with the players in the clubhouse. Spring training is easier for him. It’s not new to him.”

What Black is confident about is that McMahon will be at home in the field. The scouting reports are good, and the actions on the field this spring have reinforced that.

“At first base he looks very comfortable and third base is his natural position,” said Black. “He is an athlete. He was a quarterback in high school. He can even play second base. He even played second base in the big leagues last year (as a September call-up) and turned a double play. He’ll be fine.”

But will he be at Chase Field for that March 29 season opener?

That is what spring training is about, especially the next two weeks when the level of pitching is ratcheted another twist or two.

Tracy RingolsbyComment