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Desmond earns Nationals' starting shortstop gig

Mar 29, 2010, 8:28 AM EDT

desmond infield.JPGUPDATE: Guzman took the decision in stride and told Ladson that he is “willing to do anything the Nats ask of him.”  He will not demand a trade.

SATURDAY, 10:41pm:’s Bill Ladson passes along some refreshing news out of Nationals camp.  According to team sources, 24-year-old prospect Ian Desmond has captured the club’s Opening Day shortstop gig from Cristian Guzman.

Desmond, a third-round pick in 2007, has moved swiftly through the Nats’ farm system.  He posted a .330/.401/.477 batting line last season with seven homers, 32 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 394 plate appearances between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.

We’re sure to see some rough patches from Desmond, who hasn’t appeared in more than 25 major league games, but manager Jim Riggleman has been praising the youngster all spring and obviously has faith that he will adjust to full-time big league life with little effort.  Guzman will probably be relegated to a utility infield role, or perhaps Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo will attempt a trade.  The 32-year-old hit an ugly .284/.306/.390 last season with six home runs and 52 RBI in 531 at-bats.  He’s been dealing with a balky shoulder for most of spring training.

  1. peteinfla - Mar 28, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    “Desmond, who hasn’t appeared in a single major league game,”
    Come on Drew, you can do better than this! Last year Desmond appeared in 21 games for the NATS, compiling a .289 average over 89 at bats. Don’t you check this stuff out before you write it?

  2. Drew Silva - Mar 28, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    Thanks for the heads-up, man. Shoulda been on top of that.

  3. Old Gator - Mar 28, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    Desmond will get to face the Feesh bullpen in 18 games this year. You know that one dying quail or sinking liner per week Crash Davis dreamed about? He’ll find it here, salted amongst all the walks and doubles he bounces off the left field walls of Joeprodolsharklife Stadium, nine times this season. He should have even more fun at home, assuming his hay fever isn’t triggered by cherry blossoms.

  4. peteinfla - Mar 28, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    What bullpen?

  5. Josh - Mar 28, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    My online search says Desmond was drafted in the 3rd round by the Expos in 2004, not 2007. Not *quite* as impressive, right?
    I had a shot at this guy in my fantasy league. I passed. Why? His minor league numbers – prior to 2009, Desmond hit around .250 at multiple stops over 4 seasons in A-ball and AA; in fact, he played in AA in 2006 and was so good they sent him back to single-A for all of 2007. That’s not good. He hit over .300 in AAA last year and apparently found his stroke…or did he? I wouldn’t gamble on it! He has almost no power; in 600+ games in the minors, Desmond whalloped a whole 50 HR. He struck out 2x as often as he walked and, again except for the oddball 2009 numbers, he has poor OB skills. So do we go with his outlier 2009 season, or his 5 previous minor league outputs?

  6. peteinfla - Mar 28, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    Agreed, he is somewhat suspect, but even more so defensively than offensively. I believe he has made 5 or 6 errors already this spring. Still, when your other option is Guzman, he of no speed, no power and no glove, Desmond looks pretty good!

  7. Old Gator - Mar 28, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    Precisely my point. Nunez had a decent outing at last yesterday. Vanden Hurk looks like the designated setup man and he’s getting shelled like a Pakistani Taliban encampment. He was a little better today but, but….Renyel Pinto has looked shaky too. Good one day, bad the next. As usual. I still think they’ll finish ahead of the Gnats but that’s only because if you drop two objects from the top of a building, the more expensive one hits first.

  8. peteinfla - Mar 28, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    Vanden Hurk? Pinto? Nunez? Not an inspiring or identifiable list, to say the least. Perhaps they are counting on 162 complete games from the starters this year? Should be able to keep up a lot of bench players with a 5 or 6 man pitching staff.
    But listen, Loria had to cut back somewhere, how else would the pauper have been able to afford the 5000 trinkets he is giving out at the Hanley Ramirez Bling Apreciation Opening Day Extravanganza? Besides, bullpens are for sissy organizations anyway. You and I are old enough to remember when they weren’t called starters or relievers, they were just real men – Pitchers! So what if a game goes 16 innings, suck it up, you have two arms, right? (Apology to Jim Abbot).

  9. Phil Dirt - Mar 28, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    “a third-round pick in 2007”; “has shot through the Nats’ farm system”; “who hasn’t appeared in a single major league game”.
    Where do I apply for the opening for a writer? Seriously, it’s OK, you only blew the three most important facts in the story, after you reported on someone else’s reporting. You owe NBC their money back for this post.

  10. Old Gator - Mar 28, 2010 at 10:59 PM

    I hate to say it, but I was around to watch Louis Arroyo mop up after Whitey Ford and set the stage for the modern professional reliever. I also remember – though but a tad – how my grandfather used to get nervous when Ryne Duren walked out of the bullpen. Don’t worry grandpa, we’re sitting in the mezzanine behind home pl…uh, yeah, that’s Duren, isn’t it?
    recaptcha: mutants financial
    Hell, I can work with that. Stay tuned for the next unapproved segue into politics. Might even write a Super Bowl ad for them.

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