Results tagged ‘ Ian Desmond ’

After tough loss, Nats aren’t concerned about morale

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

This weekend’s series against the Dodgers was supposed to represent a fresh start, a time for the Nationals to turn the corner on their disappointing first half and go on a run after the All-Star break.

But after Rafael Soriano gave up a solo home run in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss Friday night, the Nationals suffered another crushing defeat on Saturday night. They collected 10 hits but only scored one run, going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and squandering six scoreless innings by Gio Gonzalez.

“I’m sure everyone’s sick of hearing it, but it’s got to turn around at some point,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “And if it doesn’t, then we’re going to keep on trying until we run out of time.”

As the Nationals continue to tread water around the .500 mark, questions have surfaced about the team’s morale. But Desmond, for one, isn’t worried.

“I think we’re doing fine,” he said. “I don’t think you could do any better than what we’re doing. I think a lot of teams under the situation that we’re in would probably be a little bit more distressed inside the clubhouse than what we’ve been. I think we’re doing a pretty good job, and I think that will pay off in the end.”

Manager Davey Johnson offered a different view.

“The only thing that helps morale is when you do the things you’re capable of doing,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to be happy if you’re not doing what you’re capable of doing. I mean, loud music and jumping up and down [won't help] … the only cure for it is to go out and express that talent. Make it happen.”

The Nationals are a young team, with eight of their 25 players under the age of 25. But with Desmond, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche and others, they also have a significant veteran presence.

“I think this is a clubhouse put together on gamers, and gamers don’t just throw the towel in,” Desmond said. “I don’t think there’s a guy in here that’s ready to surrender the season or do anything like that. We’ve got some winners, we’ve got some grinders, and we’ve got some really good ball players. It’s just a matter of time.”

Nationals need production at No. 2

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

At 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nationals manager Davey Johnson had an epiphany. He called Ian Desmond and told the shortstop that he would be swapping spots in the lineup with right fielder Jayson Werth. Desmond would hit second, Werth sixth.

When asked why he made the switch, Johnson didn’t have much of an answer.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Because I’m supposed to do something.”

On Thursday, Desmond and Werth went a combined 6-for-7 with four runs scored. On Friday, they went 4-for-8.

“I like the energy Desi brings down there,” Johnson said, “and Jayson seems to relish where he’s hitting, too.”

It was a subtle change, but an important one. Entering Friday’s game, the Nationals had gotten the least production out of the No. 2 spot in the order in club history. No. 2 hitters are batting .222 this year with a .268 on-base percentage and a .608 OPS. Since the franchise arrived in Washington in 2005, those marks rank second to last, last and last in team history.

Johnson said Friday that this lineup probably isn’t permanent, but it should be. Desmond, a career .273 hitter, has hit .285 in the No. 2 spot while in the Majors. Werth’s average in the No. 2 hole, however, is significantly lower than his career norm. When he bats second, his average is .243 compared to .268 overall.

Johnson admits that Werth has a different approach when he hits lower in the lineup.

“I think he likes that. I think he also likes the fact that five or six, you generally have a lot of guys on,” Johnson said. “He’s more aggressive when he’s in that spot. And I like that about him.”

Desmond: ‘We are not at a disadvantage’

The Nationals plan to use left-hander Ross Detwiler for Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals. The last time Detwiler faced the Cardinals was on Sept. 30. He allowed seven runs – three earned – in 2 1/3 innings.

“I don’t think we are at a disadvantage. We have a great pitching. We got here on what we have been doing and we are going to stick to it,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “I’m 100 percent confident in Det. I have no worries whatsoever. I think he is due.”

Infielder Mark DeRosa was with the Braves in the early 2000s and he watched them be eliminated in the early rounds of the playoffs. He said the Nationals can’t afford to play the game like it was any other series.

“I like to put the finality of it, the football mentality of it,” said DeRosa, who is off the playoff roster.  “That will be my little speech to the guys tomorrow. There is no tomorrow. That’s stating the obvious. If you approach each pitch like that … you can’t do it for 162 games, but you can do it for a short series. You can do it when [the game] is on the line.

“We got beat, we got beat pretty handily. We move on to the next day. Thank goodness we have another game. We need to draw on the fact that we have been the best baseball team for 162 games and just have to win one game tomorrow. Ross will give his best effort. I would like to give Gio [Gonzalez] one more opportunity to pretty much cement the season that he already has.”

Game 128: Nationals at Marlins

Adam Berry here in Miami, once again pinch-hitting for Bill Ladson. For more news and notes and in-game updates, check out Nationals.com and follow me on Twitter @adamdberry.

Some quick news and notes before the first pitch from Marlins Park…

-GM Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson set the record straight about their vocal postgame meeting following Sunday’s 4-1 loss in Philadelphia. In short: It wasn’t a big deal, and there are no hard feelings.

Johnson proved that as soon as the two sat down in the visiting dugout at Marlins Park. Rizzo sat beside Johnson during his usual pregame meeting with the media, and Johnson immediately put his boss in a headlock and laughed. This came two days after Johnson was overheard shouting, “You come down and manage the team,” at Rizzo inside his office.

“It’s normal business as usual,” Johnson said.

-The full lineups are below, but you’ll notice Michael Morse and Ian Desmond are both starting. If you missed it after the Nats’ fourth straight loss Sunday, there was some talk about how playing short-handed contributed to their recent offensive struggles. They’ve scored all of six runs during their current losing streak.

“We’ve been down a man or two, mostly a man, most of the year,” Johnson said. “But down two, that’s affecting what you can do.”

-Johnson said to only expect three call-ups on Sept. 1: Mark DeRosa, who will be activated from the disabled list; a third catcher; and someone who can pinch run.

-Speaking of call-ups, Johnson said John Lannan, recently named International League Pitcher of the Week, will make one more start for Triple-A Syracuse on Sept. 3 then join the Nats. Of greater interest, considering all the national attention on Stephen Strasburg’s shutdown, is what Johnson had to say about the timing of Lannan’s promotion.

“I think it’s going to pretty much coincide fairly close with Stephen, when he’s shut down,” Johnson said. “I think the timing, he’s lined up almost the same day, so he may have to miss a start.”

As for tonight’s lineups…

Marlins (58-71)
Bryan Petersen LF
Justin Ruggiano CF
Jose Reyes SS
Carlos Lee 1B
Giancarlo Stanton RF
Greg Dobbs 3B
Donovan Solano 2B
Rob Brantly C
Ricky Nolasco RHP

Nationals (77-50)
Jayson Werth RF
Bryce Harper CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Michael Morse LF
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Kurt Suzuki C
Stephen Strasburg RHP

Desmond, Suzuki survive injury scares in loss to Braves

By Mike Fiammetta / MLB.com

WASHINGTON — The Nationals received a pair of injury scares during their 5-1 loss to the Braves on Wednesday night.

In the fourth inning Kurt Suzuki took a foul tip by Chipper Jones directly off the back of his right hand and was in immediate, obvious pain. After a brief injury delay in which Nats trainers checked out his hand, Suzuki stayed in the game after a few warm-up tosses back to Ross Detwiler — a few of which were slightly errant. Nevertheless, x-rays taken after the game were clear.

“It’s OK,” Suzuki said. “It’s swollen, just a little sore. Just the normal stuff after you get hit.

“I don’t really get these all the time. You get bumps and bruises, but any time it has anything to do with your hands, that’s a different story.”

Suzuki ultimately finished 0-for-4 with one strikeout and three groundouts.

“I was really worried about Suzuki,” manager Davey Johnson said. “I mean, he got it right between those two knuckles on the right hand.”

Desmond, meanwhile, appeared to tweak his knee while running out a double-play ball that ended the eighth inning. About halfway to first base, Desmond came up limp and ended up hopping much of the way to first. After being thrown out, he was also checked on, but like Suzuki, he stayed in the game.

“I’m not really exactly sure [what happened],” Desmond said. “I think it was maybe I hyperextended my knee or something like that. I think it was just one of those things where I was running down the line and felt something. My first reaction was just to jump off of it before something bad happened.

“I was able to stay in the game. I could’ve done anything, I wouldn’t have taken myself out to hit. If my at-bat came up, I would’ve hit, no doubt. I think it just scared me more than anything.”

Desmond did not have any tests taken on his knee, though he did say he had trainers check it out. He finished 1-for-4 with a single to right field in the second inning.

“Desi, it scared me to death, I thought he pulled a hamstring,” Johnson said.

The Nats have a day off on Thursday before beginning a six-day, five-game road trip with three games against the Phillies and two against the Marlins.

“We played great baseball,” Desmond said. “Great series; played well against the Mets, played well against the Braves. Nice little homestand. We’ll have a day off and then go to Philadelphia on Thursday.”

Desmond activated from DL; Izturis designated for assignment

The Nationals reinstated shortstop Ian Desmond from the 15-day disabled list and designated infielder Cesar Izturis for assignment.

Desmond hasn’t played in a game since early July because of a torn oblique. On Thursday, Desmond took batting practice and infield drills at Nationals Park and didn’t experience any problems.

“It was another great day,” Desmond said Thursday.

As for Izturis, he played in five games for Washington and went 2-for-4 with four runs scored before getting his walking papers. He was claimed off waivers from the Brewers on Aug. 6.

Game 117: Nationals at Giants

Adam Berry here on the shores of McCovey Cove, pinch-hitting for Bill Ladson. For more news and notes and in-game updates, check out Nationals.com and follow me on Twitter @adamdberry.

A few quick updates from AT&T Park…

-The Nationals have a potential return date set for shortstop Ian Desmond, and it’s a bit sooner than expected. Washington’s All-Star shortstop will be activated for Friday’s series opener against the Mets, provided he gets through his full pregame workouts Tuesday and Wednesday and a simulated game Thursday without incident.

“I plan on, unless Mike Rizzo ties my hand behind my back, activating him. So I’ll keep my fingers crossed,” Nats manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s a horse. I want him back. We all want him back.”

-Jayson Werth is back in the Nats’ starting lineup. Werth reported to AT&T Park with his right ankle feeling much better than it did yesterday, when he was a late scratch from the lineup.

-Michael Morse, meanwhile, was held out of the lineup with a jammed right thumb, which caused him to leave last night’s game early. Johnson hoped to have him back for Wednesday’s series finale, assuming he’s in full health by then, but mentioned that he might not return until Friday.

-Desmond’s sim game on Thursday will be pitched by Chien-Ming Wang, who was recently pulled off his rehab assignment. If he looks fine there, Wang will “more than likely” restart his rehab assignment, Johnson said.

-Speaking of players who will likely join the Nats roster in September, Johnson said Anthony Rendon, promoted earlier today to Double-A Harrisburg, could be a candidate to be called up once the active rosters expand.

“He might be. We’ll see how he finishes up,” Johnson said. “This is the year of the young guys all around baseball, and he’s another one right in that mold.”

As for tonight’s lineups…

Nationals (72-44)
Danny Espinosa SS
Bryce Harper CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Jayson Werth RF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Tyler Moore LF
Jesus Flores C
Steve Lombardozzi 2B
Jordan Zimmermann RHP

Giants (63-53)
Angel Pagan CF
Marco Scutaro 2B
Melky Cabrera LF
Buster Posey C
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Hunter Pence RF
Brandon Belt 1B
Brandon Crawford SS
Madison Bumgarner LHP

Nats Inbox: Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers Nationals fans’ questions

Are you finally on the Roger Bernadina bandwagon? He is having his best year offensively and we all saw his awesome catch against the Astros. Do you see him settling in as the Nats’ fourth outfielder during the foreseeable future or do you think he’ll be swimming in different waters next season?
— Tyler and Terry, Washington DC

I’ve always been on the Bernadina bandwagon. I’m simply not fond of the nickname, “The Shark,” because he doesn’t put up Albert Pujols numbers. I prefer the name, “Speed Racer,” because of the way he runs the bases.

There is no question that Bernadina is having a great year. I love the way he outplayed Rick Ankiel, who was released last month. Bernadina is having great at-bats — it helps that he shortened his swing — and playing great defense. He could be a fourth outfielder for years to come. I don’t see him playing every day for the Nationals. He could be trade bait during the offseason.

The Nats bullpen has been great this year. But they have been used a lot. Manager Davey Johnson seems reluctant to have his starters pitch the last three innings of a game — even if the pitch count is low. If this is going to be a postseason team, won’t they need a fresh bullpen? Is this just part of Davey’s managing personality?
— Chris, Marlborough, CT

I spoke to Johnson recently and he doesn’t want to over use his pitchers before the postseason begins. During the month of September, I expect the Nationals to call up extra relievers such as Christian Garcia, so I expect the Nationals’ bullpen to be rested by the postseason.

When Ian Desmond returns, I would assume that Jayson Werth will lead off and Ian Desmond will hit sixth. Is this what you think also?
— Jamie, New Brunswick, Canada

It’s hard to say. If both players can stay healthy, I could see both players leading off from time to time. I can also see Danny Espinosa leading off once in a while. During the offseason, it would not surprise me if the Nationals were looking for a leadoff hitter.

With the development of Bryce Harper, I do not see the urgency to acquire a center fielder for next season. They are overloaded in the outfield already. Do you agree?
— Rich R., Washington DC.

I disagree. They have almost nothing but corner outfielders. I think Harper is a better as a right or left fielder. While Bernadina is having a great year defensively in center field, the Nationals consider him a corner outfielder. They center fielder could come from the Minor League system [Eury Perez] or free agency [Michael Bourn].

With Adam LaRoche having a mutual option for next season, do you think he will decline his option due to such a great season? I was thinking that if LaRoche picks up the option as well as the Nats, the team could decide to deal either LaRoche or Michael Morse, get good value in return and then go after a center fielder in a trade.
— Alex H., London, England

It’s too early to answer the question about LaRoche and the mutual option. I think both sides will deal with the option after the season. I don’t think Morse will be traded because he has one more year left on his contract and could be put at first base for next year.

There is possibility they could wait for Perez and Brian Goodwin, but I’m expecting the Nationals to trade for a center fielder or sign one during the free agency period.

Although John Lannan has struggled this season at Triple A Syracuse, with his success with the Major League team, do you see a long-term future with him in the rotation again?
— Ben S. Concord. N.C.

The answer is no. It would not surprise me if he was non-tendered after the season. Provided that everybody is healthy or re-signed for next year, I see the rotation like this: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler.

– Bill Ladson

Game 115: Nationals at D-backs

Adam Berry here, pinch-hitting for Bill Ladson. For more news and notes and in-game updates, check out Nationals.com and follow me on Twitter @adamdberry.

Not a whole lot going on before today’s series finale against the D-backs at Chase Field, where the Nationals will try for their ninth straight win.

-You can check out the story from last night’s game here. Saturday’s Nats notebook also got a late-night update on Ian Desmond’s first swings.

-And, in case you missed it, Bill Ladson is still churning out stories from back on the east coast. You can read his Q&A with manager Davey Johnson here.

-One point that may have slipped under the radar last night: The Nats can play .500 baseball the rest of the way and win 95 games. Obviously they have higher aspirations, especially with the Braves still right behind them, but their skipper had that number in mind. Davey’s math wasn’t exactly on the mark, but his point is no less valid.

“I’m very aware of that,” Johnson said, smiling. “Not that I expect that to happen, but it’s kind of a mathematical equation. When you can play .500 ball, other clubs have to win around 80 percent of their games. … We don’t need anybody keeping us honest.”

Here are today’s lineups, with Jayson Werth getting the day off:

Nationals (71-43)
Danny Espinosa SS
Bryce Harper CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Michael Morse RF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Tyler Moore LF
Kurt Suzuki C
Steve Lombardozzi 2B
Ross Detwiler LHP

D-backs (57-57)
Chris Young CF
Aaron Hill 2B
Jason Kubel LF
Paul Goldschmidt 1B
Justin Upton RF
Miguel Montero C
Chris Johnson 3B
John McDonald SS
Patrick Corbin LHP

Game 114: Nationals at D-backs

Adam Berry here, pinch-hitting for Bill Ladson. For more news and notes and in-game updates, check out Nationals.com and follow me on Twitter @adamdberry.

-Nats manager Davey Johnson told us last night that Bryce Harper would be out of tonight’s lineup, and indeed he has the day off. Johnson wanted to get Tyler Moore a start against Arizona lefty Wade Miley, so the outfield will be Moore-Werth-Morse tonight. Harper will be back in the lineup Sunday.

-Werth is leading off tonight. He’s batting .400/.500/.500 in nine games since coming off the disabled list, and the Nats haven’t lost a game he’s played in. His overall batting line this season is .305/.403/.453, and Johnson said the biggest change in his approach is that he’s willing to use every part of the field after trying too hard to always go to the opposite field last season.

“He’s attacking the ball. He’s much more of a threat. I like his swing better this year. Everything about him has been great,” Johnson said. “Everybody in the lineup now is swinging like I know they’re capable of doing. That’s why it’s fun to watch this team now. We’ve got a chance to score some runs.”

-In other news, Ian Desmond was scheduled to take his first swings in the cage since hitting the DL with a torn left oblique. He’s still scheduled to come back in late August or early September. Johnson wants the Nats’ medical staff to play it as safe as possible with Desmond, but he’s certainly eager to have him back in the lineup.

“When that man’s ready, I want him back,” Johnson said. “Arguably he’s been the most dynamic player this year.”

Here are tonight’s lineups…

Nationals (70-43)
Jayson Werth CF
Danny Espinosa SS
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Michael Morse RF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Tyler Moore LF
Jesus Flores C
Steve Lombardozzi 2B
Edwin Jackson RHP

D-backs (57-56)
Stephen Drew SS
Aaron Hill 2B
Jason Kubel LF
Paul Goldschmidt 1B
Justin Upton RF
Miguel Montero C
Chris Johnson 3B
Gerardo Parra CF
Wade Miley LHP

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