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Nationals drop struggling Ian Desmond from the leadoff spot

Apr 15, 2011, 7:35 PM EST

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After going hitless in 12 at-bats during this week’s series against the Phillies, Ian Desmond has been dropped from first to seventh in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Brewers.

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman changed his mind about dropping Desmond in the lineup early last week, but tells Paul Tenorio of the Washington Post that he’s hopeful the change will allow him to relax at the plate.

“I just really want to let the attention get off [Desmond] in that spot, let him settle in a little bit deeper in the lineup, take some of that off of him,” Riggleman said. “We thought about doing it earlier and I didn’t, it was only three or four games into the season. Dezzy’s doing fine. He’s going to go through some times like this just like all of them are. Just trying to take a little attention off the leadoff spot for him. He’s a heck of a player and he’s doing some really good things for us out there that are kind of under the radar that people don’t see, but as far as swinging the bat maybe let him relax a little bit deeper in the lineup today.”

Desmond is batting just .180/.212/.300 with a 12/2 K/BB ratio over his first 52 plate appearances this season. He has just 35 walks over his first 715 plate appearances in the big leagues, so he’s hardly an ideal leadoff man.

Danny Espinosa will replace him at the top of the lineup and while he’s a poor bet to maintain his current .281 batting average, he is at least seeing 3.88 pitches per plate appearance so far this season. The Nationals need something to kickstart an offense which is missing third baseman Ryan Zimmerman with an abdominal strain.

  1. Brian Murphy - Apr 15, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    Desmond started out 0-for-12, then went 9-for-25 before this current 0-for-15 stretch as of the 10th inning of tonight’s game versus Milwaukee.
    I’m sure another demotion will lead to another hot spell. I have no evidence to support that statement; just an empty assertion.

  2. akismet-e6748cca3a16ea6e8283008d25583adc - Apr 16, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Desmond seemed to hit best last year in the #2 hole. Unfortunately the Nats just don’t have a prototypical leadoff guy right now. Nyjer Morgan was that guy but he managed to play/talk/earn his way out of town. I’d like to see Espinosa in the leadoff spot (switch hitter, fast, some power too) more often.

    Frankly, the team just doesn’t have good personnel in all its positions. We got a good leadoff/centerfield prospect in Chris Brown in the Willingham deal and the hope is that he blossoms into that role for the team. I also see the team grooming Bryce Harper to play center field for us down the road (since we bought 7 years of Werth in right field).

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