Jul 15, 2015, 3:37 PM EST
With a full four days off in between games due to the 2015 MLB All-Star break, most of the Nationals roster will get a nice rest before they get back going against the Dodgers on Friday night. The second half of the season is about to begin and, though the Nats are currently in first place, many players on the team will hope to improve as the season goes on.
Of course, a good group of Nats players will hope to get healthy and back on the field. But several guys who have been playing all year will simply aim for better results.
Perhaps no player fits that description better on the Nationals than Ian Desmond. A three-time Silver Slugger at shortstop, Desmond has struggled mightily this year both at the plate and on defense. Desmond has been in the lineup all season, which is more than many of his teammates can say, but the results have not been ideal.
Through 84 games this year, Desmond is batting just .211/..255/.334 with seven home runs and 24 RBI. He has committed a whopping 20 errors already, just four away from the 24 he had in 154 games last season. Only one MLB player – Oakland’s Marcus Semien – has committed more.
Despite all that, however, Nats general manager Mike Rizzo is confident Desmond can turn his season around. He says there are no plans to make a change at shortstop, even with Desmond’s uncertainty as a pending free agent.
“I expect him to be Ian Desmond [in the second half]. He’s our shortstop, he’s gonna be our shortstop,” Rizzo explained. “He’s a leader of the ballclub. He’s a three-time Silver Slugger that we think he’s going to be Ian Desmond in the second half. He’s got a great attitude, a great work ethic.”
Extension talks between Desmond and the team during the offseason didn’t get anywhere and the seven-year veteran is facing the prospect of leaving the only MLB organization he’s ever known. Put that into the context of his poor on-field performance, and you can imagine it’s been a tough year for Desmond.
Rizzo, though, lauds Desmond for the way he has handled himself this season, given all that has occurred.
“For a guy who has struggled like he has, he still comes to the ballpark with a smile every day and a bounce in his step. The one thing that he gives, not only Matt Williams but me, is that he plays every day. We know who our shortstop is every given day and that’s an important component to his skillset,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo and the Nationals have shown a willingness to be patient with players if they have a track record in the majors. He is using the same approach with Desmond and is hopeful the team will see better results as the season continues.
Desmond does have a history of hitting better after the All-Star break. His career splits show a .250/.293/.415 slash in the first half and a .285/.337/.432 mark in the second.
“He’s a proven player. You know, I always look at the back of the baseball cards and figure out what kind of player they’re going to be. I think that you see what Desi’s numbers are now, what they should be and I see him ascending to reach those numbers in the second half,” he said.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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