Desmond could be utility man; Lineup all but set
Manager Jim Riggleman reiterated Wednesday that the Nationals are thinking about making Ian Desmond an all-purpose utility man — playing all three outfield positions, shortstop and second base.
Riggleman, however, wants to make sure that shortstop Cristian Guzman is healthy before putting Desmond in a utility role. Guzman is coming off right shoulder surgery and foot problems.
“If Cristian Guzman is physically moving around good and his arm feels good, we plan on him being at shortstop,” Riggleman said. “Then it just becomes a matter of getting Ian Desmond enough action to warrant keeping him in the big leagues.
“He’s a comforting guy to have on the ballclub because he can play multiple positions; but the multiple positions are going to be tested. “We’ve got to get him time; he hasn’t played in the outfield a lot.”
The Nationals are playing split-squad games against the Astros and Marlins on March 4. Desmond will start at shortstop and then move to the outfield in one of those games.
* Riggleman indicated that the starting lineup is all but set. If the season were to start Wednesday, Guzman would bat second. While Riggleman never named the entire the Opening Day lineup, the Nationals would look like this barring injuries:
Nyjer Morgan — CF
Guzman — SS
Ryan Zimmerman — 3B
Adam Dunn — 1B
Josh Willingham — LF
Elijah Dukes — RF
Adam Kennedy — 2B
Ivan Rodriguez — C
“The downside of naming names and saying that is, aren’t we just full of ourselves after losing 103 games? It’s kind of, pretty much, 30 teams in baseball know,” Riggleman said. “There’s not many — there’s a spot here and there. I can pretty much tell you who the Yankees and [Phillies] and [Red Sox] will have in their Opening Day lineup.”
* Infielder Pete Orr did not go to the Instructional League to learn how to become an emergency catcher last fall. The team felt that Orr would be better off learning how to be an emergency catcher during Spring Training.