Playing some first base could help Hawpe
Brad Hawpe was primarily a first baseman at LSU, with Todd Helton entrenched as the Rockies’ first baseman Hawpe had to make a change. Hawpe used hard work to become a right fielder, and a productive one. Not only has he been one of the most productive offensive players at his position (last year’s second-half slump notwithstanding), but he developed one of the National League’s best throwing arms from right.
But general manager Dan O’Dowd’s statement that Hawpe could play first base to spell Helton on some days is an idea whose time has come. O’Dowd told the Denver Post, “He’s a legitimate alternative.”
Hawpe has an imposing physique, but that can come at a price in the outfield. There is a wear and tear that goes with covering those distances, making the dives and hitting the walls. With manager Jim Tracy riding Hawpe almost daily as the team climbed out of its early-season hole, he wasn’t rested as much as he needed to be. The physical pounding showed late in the year.
Helton will continue to be the primary first baseman, and he’s a hard guy to sit. But putting Hawpe at first on occasion, then resting him in the outfield on other days, could preserve both players.