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Desmond says encouragement from Cal Ripken has helped

Jul 20, 2015, 10:48 PM EST

Photo by USA Today

Ian Desmond entered Monday’s game hitless in his previous 17 at-bats, a streak that dated back to July 10, a span of 10 days. But in the Nats’ 7-2 win over the Mets on Monday night, Desmond reached base twice: once on an infield single and then later with a two-run homer, his eighth of the season and the 99th of his career.

Desmond has been struggling all season and with a .208 average after Monday knows he isn’t out of the woods quite yet. But the 29-year-old shortstop says he has been feeling better at the plate in recent days and part of the reason may be due to some words of encouragement from arguably the best to ever play his position.

Orioles legend Cal Ripken, Jr. was in Washington over the weekend as part of the broadcast crew for TBS and the two ran into each other before one of the Nats’ games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Here is how Desmond described their interaction:

“It’s funny, the other day I was walking to the park and Cal Ripken was out there signing autographs in the parking lot. He kind of grabbed me and said ‘you know, back in ’93 through the first 80 games I was hitting .199 and I finished with a pretty good year. You’re going to be alright.’ That kind of gave me a little bit of hope. Alright, if he did it and grinded through it, then I can too. That’s kind of the mentality I already had, but it’s nice to have that reassurance. You never know where it’s going to come from or who is going to be the person that lifts you up. You’ve gotta keep your ears and eyes open all the time.”

Ripken wasn’t quite hitting .199 through Game 80, but he did go through some rough patches in 1993. He was batting .199 on May 28, the 47th game of the season. And he was hitting just .215 on July 6, his 83rd game.

Ripken finished that year with a .257 average, 24 homers and 90 RBI. He won a Silver Slugger award and placed 19th in the AL MVP race.

Ripken was linked to the Nationals during their managerial search following the 2013 season before the team hired Matt Williams for the job. Though he didn’t end up coaching the Nationals, it appears he may have made an impact on at least one of their players nonetheless.

  1. Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 20, 2015 at 11:27 PM

    arguably the best shortstop

    Tough call. I never saw the Big Dutchman, but if there’s an argument, his name will come up.

  2. Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 20, 2015 at 11:31 PM

    Oh, and in 1993, Ripken finished “all right” with 24 home runs, 93 RBI, and a slash line .257/.329/.420. A 3.7 B-R WAR year, for those of you who like that one.

    We’d be thrilled if Desmond finished with that.

  3. RoadApples - Jul 21, 2015 at 12:08 AM

    #20 :
    Is a 1st Class ballplayer + a 1st Class individual will = 1st Class results.
    ” Perseverance is genius in disguise “

  4. laddieblahblah - Jul 21, 2015 at 2:49 AM

    Anything that helps. I thought Desi had 2 good ABs, the fly to RF that moved Espinosa to 3rd, and, of course, the line drive homer to RF. He continues to have his best success staying inside the ball and going the other way. The swinging bunt was what can happen when you put the ball in play. That kind of hit does not occur when you strike out, but I wouldn’t call that one a “quality” AB.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2015 at 7:13 AM

      The grounder up the middle didn’t make it through but he did get a single on the swinging bunt.

      This reminds me of Chipper Jones helping Adam LaRoche.

  5. thewerthwhisperer - Jul 21, 2015 at 9:21 AM

    I was there last night and I thought the fans were working on a curtain call for Desi after the home run. It never gained traction, but nice to see and hear the support. A nice moment, As compared to lots of posters on this board calling for him to be traded for a bag of baseballs?

    • Eric - Jul 21, 2015 at 9:48 AM

      The internet really brings out the best in people, eh?

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