Results tagged ‘ Ian Desmond ’

Desmond’s defense nearly flawless, offense must improve

In 2010, Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond led the Major Leagues in errors with 34. During the first month of this season, it looked like Desmond would continue to be a defensive liability, for he had seven errors by April 25th.

However, since that date, Desmond has committed one error and that came on May 5 against the Phillies.

Desmond said recently that he changed his routine on defense starting with this past offseason. Instead of working out with teen-agers at Sarasota [Fla.] High School, his alma mater, Desmond decided to work out at the IMG academy, where he took groundballs on a regular basis.

“In the past, I took my groundballs in my high school,” Desmond said. “As much as those kids appreciate me going there and working with them, it was more important for me to go and get my work in and take care of business. [At the academy], it was strictly me. I could work on my throwing, I didn’t have to go by [High School's] practice plan, things like that.

“Defense is my main priority. … I want to be a better defender. It’s paying it’s dividends now. It also helps that the team is better [on defense], also. We are all playing better as a cohesive unit. A lot of communication is going out there and everyone is in the right position.”

Now, Desmond must try to fix his offense. Entering Monday’s action against the Phillies, Desmond is hitting .223 with three home runs and 16 RBIs. He is one of the reasons the Nationals are one of the worst offensive teams in the Major Leagues. After Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Padres, Desmond acknowledged that he and the other position players on the Nationals need to step up and help the pitchers win games.

“We have to start scoring runs for our pitching staff,” Desmond said. “They have been pitching great and we can’t score runs for them. We have to find a different answer.”

Nats, Cardinals in near brawl

The Nationals and Cardinals found themselves in scuffle in the top of the seventh inning Monday afternoon.

In that inning, with one out and the Nationals leading, 4-2, Cardinals right-hander and former National Miguel Batista hit shortstop Ian Desmond with a pitch. As he was walking toward first base, Desmond was arguing with Albert Pujols. Suddenly, both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown.

The two teams scuffled for about 15 minutes with Nationals manager Jim Riggleman and  Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa having a few words.

It mark third time a hitter was hit by a pitch during the game. Laynce Nix was hit by a Chris Carpenter pitch in the top of the fifth inning, while Colby Rasmus was plunked in the bottom of the inning by Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez.
                   

Nationals make two sparkling defensive plays

The Nationals are one of the worst defensive teams in baseball this season, but they made two sparkling gems during Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Marlins.

In the fifth inning, with runners on first and third, two outs and Nationals right-hander Jason Marquis on the mound, Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison hit a shot up the middle that looked like a base hit. But second baseman Danny Espinosa made a great diving play and threw out Morrison for the final out of the inning.

“That was great play,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “The range to get it and then the arm to finish it off was tremendous. I don’t know what more you could do there.”

A natural shortstop, Espinosa sounded like a person who doesn’t need to make adjustments at second base. Espinosa didn’t start playing the position until after the All-Star break.

“I’m trying to feel more comfortable everyday over there to make my routine plays. It makes me feel better,” Espinosa said. 

In the sixth inning, the Nationals were able to turn a great double play. With no outs and a runner on first, Dan Uggla hit what looked like a routine groundball to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who booted the ball, but manage to throw out Uggla at first base. 

At the same time, Hanley Ramirez didn’t stop at second and decided to go to third. Luckily for the Nationals, shortstop Ian Desmond was covering third as first baseman Adam Dunn threw out Ramirez for the double play.

“I saw that he didn’t stop at second,” Desmond said about Ramirez. “I just knew to run to third. That’s the way they teach you to do it. I ran to third, hoping that Dunn was going to throw it and he did.”

Twitter Poll: Is Desmond ROY candidate?

On Monday, I asked my Twitter followers the following question: Should Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond be considered a Rookie of the Year candidate in 2010? Yes or No. Why?

Seventeen followers said no because Desmond has made 31 errors this season, while 13 others believe he should considered a Rookie of the Year candidate. Here is what the followers had to say.

@CDublin: No, only because the National League is so stacked with rookies this year. Plus, Desmond has way too many errors.

@Sultan_of_Stat: Yes to being considered, he’s had a great rookie season. His defensive growing pains will keep him from winning though.

@bart__davis: He will get well deserved votes, but too many errors. Great young player.

@seanhoganVT: No. Desmond is having a decent year, but he’s nowhere near the level of Buster Posey or Jason Heyward.

@UnkleWheez: Yes. His batting average is sixth best among NL shortstops  and he plays good defense. The errors hurt but they are “good” errors.

@thebrowncoat: No. Defense, Defense, Defense hasn’t been good enough.

@junebugskippin: He should be considered but will ultimately lose to Cubs SS Starlin Castro

@BYSchwartz: Danny Espinosa should be a candidate :D

@SodaPop6548: Heck yes! Ian Desmond has been great at the plate and his D has been getting a lot better. Desi is going to be an All Star!

@kalamazooapples: Desmond a candidate? Maybe, but I wouldn’t vote for him over Starlin Castro of the Cubs. And, I truly don’t like the Cubs.

@tbridge: With 31 E’s, so far, I’d say no. Plus batting numbers. 

@Evolution33: No. Any other year and yes, but this has been beyond an excellent year for rookies.

@R1cketyCr1cket: A candidate? Sure, assuming you need one from every team like the All Star game. Should he win? Of course not.

@jcj5y: If he finishes strong, I’d vote him fourth or fifth. Posey should win.

@gregyoung3: Simply for the reason that he’s leading the league in errors and there are much better candidates out there.

@bobbyoler: No. Thirty-one errors, don’t care how much potential you have, that’s egregious. Danny Espinosa may be in the running next year though.  

@LPags03: How many errors does he have? Definitely  not rookie candidate to me. I think he’ll have a solid career, but first season has been rocky.

@misschatter: I agree with @LPags03 — too many errors. 

@mikekruger: Considered? Sure. Win? No way. Too many errors.

@rickyh17: Yes. His errors are hard to ignore but his many good defensive plays and offensive impact, especially of late, is also hard to ignore. 

@HendoDC: No. He’ll be a good defender some year, but this year isn’t the case. Heyward would be my first choice with Posey second. 

@AlanClaffie: Desmond needs way better defense to earn any semi-serious accolades, so no ROTY vote from me.

@Jeffrey_Bergin: Absolutely. His production with RISP and the fact he has played a demanding position all season. He won’t win, but top 5.

@md_schmidt: Yes. Mainly based on results at plate and on base paths. Fielding struggles will keep him from winning ROY, however.

@BuryMeInEngland: Insane idea. He has 31 errors so maybe he can get “most individual errors in a year” award.

@jtshiffman: No. If it was only based on hitting than yes, but he has made too many fielding errors.

@CapitolBaseball: No for Desmond. Despite great second half, just look at the errors. Total disqualifier.

@ind_sports_cubs: Not at all. Have you heard of Starlin Castro?

@szul: Yes. His offensive numbers match up well with any contender. His defense will obviously hurt his contention though.  

@MikeHill: YES! He’s an Iron Man.

Desmond stays aggressive, not worried about errors

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond may be a rookie, but one thing is certain: He doesn’t let mistakes bother him. He proved it during a 6-5 victory over the Padres on Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

Take the eighth inning: With the bases loaded and one out, left-hander Sean Burnett induced Oscar Salazar to hit what looked like a perfect double-play ball to second baseman Cristian Guzman, who threw the ball to Desmond for the force. But Desmond threw the ball past first baseman Adam Dunn, allowing Chase Headley to score the fifth run of the game. It was Desmond’s 21st error of the season.

“That’s just me. I hate to say it, but I’m aggressive,” Desmond said. “It’s really hard for me to say, ‘No, don’t make the play.’ That’s something I have to learn up here. I have to make better decisions, I guess. I handled the feed perfectly fine. The throw was wrong.”

But Desmond made up for it in the top of the ninth inning. With a runner on first and closer Matt Capps on the mound, Scott Hairston doubled to left field. Outfielder Josh Willingham threw the ball to Desmond, who then threw a perfect strike to catcher Ivan Rodriguez to nail Jerry Hairston at the plate. 

Ask what he will be thinking about the rest of the night – the error or the great throw he made to the plate – Desmond said he will remember the home run he hit in the fifth inning to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead.

“I really don’t worry about the error. It was an aggressive play,” Desmond said.

Guzman making a case to be starting shortstop

Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman played the first of two consecutive games Friday afternoon and was able to throw the baseball without any problems in a 7-4 victory over the Cardinals.

Guzman, who is recovering right shoulder surgery, had three assists and made two putouts in the game. Manager Jim Riggleman was encouraged by what he saw from Guzman. For most of the exhibition season, the team was concerned that Guzman’s shoulder wasn’t strong enough to make tough throws. Now, it appears Riggleman isn’t worried about Guzman’s shoulder.

“He is playing fine. His style of throwing is not to get up there and gun it. It’s not what he does,” Riggleman said. “The ball is getting across the infield nicely. He has a good velocity on his throws. Guzzie is doing fine.”

Entering Saturday’s action, the battle for the starting job at shortstop is between Guzman and Ian Desmond. So far, Desmond has the lead, hitting .300 and leading the team with 12 RBIs. If he is not the starting shortstop, Desmond will go to Triple-A Syracuse and play every day at the same position.

Guzman has played only 10 games this spring because of shoulder issues and he had to deal with family matters in Washington. He is 7-for-30 [.233] with a home run and four RBIs.
 
Riggleman said that he has to make a decision between Desmond and Guzman soon. If Guzman is not the everyday shortstop, the plan is to make him a utility player. Riggleman acknowledged that Guzman would have to take a “crash course” on how to play second base, a position Guzman has never played in his life. Guzman has played third base once and that was during the All-Star Game in 2008 at Yankee Stadium   

“If one of those two guys were on the ballclub and not be the shortstop, we need to get him some work some other places,” Riggleman said. “We need to make a call on it pretty soon.” 

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.

Guzman not sure he will play second base

Shortstop Cristian Guzman is still not sure if he wants to play second base in 2010. He has talked to agent, Stanley King, about the situation, but will not talk about his plans until after the season. 

“Right now, I don’t know yet,” Guzman said on Monday.

It was learned on Sept. 10 that general manager Mike Rizzo and interim manager Jim Riggleman had a private meeting with Guzman and asked him to switch to second base for the 2010 season.

Guzman, who did not give Rizzo and Riggleman an answer, was in shock and told them he never played second base in his life. The only other position Guzman has played other than shortstop was in the 2008 All-Star Game when he played third base for the National League team.

The Nationals feel that Guzman will prolong his career if he makes the switch and no longer has the range to play the shortstop.   

If Guzman agrees to the switch, that means the Nationals most likely will look for a shortstop during the offseason. The Nationals are debating if Ian Desmond can get the job done at short. There is a positive feeling that he can.     

Guzman may not have a choice but switch to second because he is expected to have an MRI after the season. He has a ailing right shoulder, which has bothered him for a month. Guzman said the shoulder grew worse when he twice threw to home plate against the Dodgers last Thursday.

Guzman will not the play shortstop for the rest of the season and is regulated to pinch-hitting duties.

“I kept playing and I threw to home plate against the Dodgers and my arm stretched a little bit and I felt it. I had to stop because I knew [something was wrong with the shoulder],” Guzman said. “I went to the doctor and I knew.”

Tidbits from Citi Field

* Shortstop Ian Desmond will play for the Licey Tigers this offseason, joining outfielder Elijah Dukes.  

* Left-hander Ross Detwiler will pitch against the Dodgers on Wednedsay. Interim manager Jim Riggleman didn’t rule out Detwiler getting another start. Detwiler is close to his innings limit.

* Ryan Zimmerman [2006] and Adam Dunn [2009] are the only members of the Nationals to drive in 100 runs in a season.  

Desmond to play right field

Interim Nationals manager Jim Riggleman continues to experiment with the lineup. On Saturday, he decided to start shortstop Ian Desmond in right field, a position Desmond has not played since he was in high school in Sarasota Fla. 

Desmond was given three days noticed that he would play the position. In fact ,he was seen playing right field during batting practice on Saturday. 

Riggleman made the move in order to get Pete Orr in the lineup at second base. Right-hander John Maine is pitching on Sunday and he is tough on left-handers. So Riggleman will have an all-right-handed lineup that day.

As for Desmond, he borrowed a glove from outfielder Justin Maxwell in order to play the right field. Desmond said he was not nervous when he was told about playing a new position. 

“They believe in me and they want me out there. I will go where ever they want,” Desmond said. “I don’t care, as long as I’m on the field and get a chance to play in the big league level. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Riggleman didn’t rule out using Desmond in right field.

“I would say it could [happened again] based on who’s pitching or if someone is banged up,” Riggleman said.  

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