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Desmond gets another day off

Jun 19, 2015, 6:49 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

Ian Desmond got his first day of the season off last week in Milwaukee, but the Nationals shortstop still spent much of his time at Miller Park in work mode, whether in the batting cage or the dugout, trying to fix what has been ailing him all year.

So when he decided to give Desmond another day off Friday, manager Matt Williams made it clear what he expects from his struggling veteran this time around.

“The last day off, he refused to rest,” Williams said. “He took extra batting practice, back to the grind. I want him to rest. Take a blow. He’s been an everyday player for a long, long time. And things have not been good so far for him this season. There is a bunch of baseball left, so I want him to relax and freshen up a little bit and get back at it. That’s what I hope for him. It’s difficult to do that with him, because he’s a worker. I just hope he takes it easy for today and clears out. Let it clear and get back to work.”

Mired in a prolonged slump that has included a .129 batting average and 23 strikeouts in his last 19 games, Desmond has yet to find a consistent groove at the plate, bearing little resemblance to the player who won three straight NL Silver Slugger Awards over the previous three seasons. He also has struggled in the field, though, with only seven errors committed over his last 54 games after he was charged with eight in his first 12 games.

Williams speaks regularly with Desmond and made sure his shortstop understands a day off isn’t a sign of a permanent change. But he also recognizes the need for an occasional breather for a player under the kind of stress Desmond (a pending free agent at season’s end) now finds himself.

“We talk all the time,” the manager said. “We have to understand that, 1) he needs a day. If it turns into two, then it turns into two. He needs some rest. He’s playing a demanding position every day. If that’s the case, then that will be the case. He understands what’s going on and that he needs to get a day off. We’ll see where we go from there.”

Through it all, Williams insists he sees a player in a good frame of mind, one he believes will snap out of his prolonged funk and return to the form he displayed in the past.

“There’s a lot going on,” Williams said. “But he is ready to play every single day and eager to play and goes out there with a good attitude every time he takes the field. When things aren’t going the way you want them to, sometimes it’s good just to hang out, get a day, relax and not do much. Get some good treatment, get a nice lift in, whatever he needs to do. And then get back to work. This game, over the course of 162, is a grind. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s really true. When you’re an everyday player and are trying to fight through something, sometimes it’s good to have a day.”

  1. Nats_UrbanPlanner - Jun 19, 2015 at 7:02 PM

    His attitude and failure to work with MW to make it better is detrimental to the team and ultimately Desi’s wallet. He needs a few weeks in the minors to clear his head, work on his mechanics and come back as a positive contributor to this club. They need a silver slugger Ian to compensate for injuries and poor pitching.

    • lphboston - Jun 19, 2015 at 9:16 PM

      Agree 100 percent. He cost himself a lot of money looking for an even bigger payday.

  2. natfan33 - Jun 19, 2015 at 10:12 PM

    Is he off the chewing tobacco? Maybe this is affecting him as silly as it sounds.

    • 3on2out - Jun 19, 2015 at 11:09 PM

      Looks to me like he still dipping.

  3. infideljack - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:07 AM

    Desmond is actually extra baggage at this point. We are so lucky that he refused to sign.
    The rest of the infielders we already have are flexible and if one of them needs rest we have Uggla, TMo and CR.
    If we have an injury, we can call up Difo. Unfortunately, I doubt he has trade value at this point and without a dramatic turn around, there is no way he gets a QO. Release him and maybe someone will giv him a chance to play.

  4. nelliefox - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    Mark: good article. You can run it again today. Soon MW will suggest that Desi needs a week off. He is the Tom Tresh of the 21st century.

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