I was given the opportunity this morning to conduct a quick interview with the Washington Nationals' Ian Desmond, an '04 Expos' 3rd Round pick who earned the starting job at short coming out of Spring Training this year after making his MLB debut with 7 doubles, 2 triples 4 HR's and 12 RBI's in 21 games last September. So far this season the 24-year-old infielder has hit for a .233 AVG with a .327 OBP, .395 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR and 8 RBI's over 17 games during which he's made some of the errors fans were told to expect while also turning some heads with some web-gem quality defense at short. After the Nationals were done with BP this morning Desmond was nice enough to come back out of the clubhouse and answer a few questions I had and a few submitted by Federal Baseball.com's readers, the following is a complete transcript of that conversation:
Federal Baseball (FB): You beat out Cristian Guzman (for the starting job at short) coming out of Spring Training, but he's still found a way to get in the lineup and make a contribution, have you learned anything from watching him play every day?
Ian Desmond: "I've been watching him since 2005, you know. The guy's a gamer. He knows how to play the game the right way, and his approach at the plate, everyone on the team could learn something from him, especially me. He's aggressive, he swings at balls in the zone, he's not really worried about walking or striking out, those numbers don't matter to him. He just wants to get up there and hit, which is good. I try to be aggressive like him and I try to play the game with the same type of energy and life that he has."
FB: One of the first things a lot of fans heard about you was (the former DC GM Jim) Bowden comparing you to Derek Jeter earlier in your career, do you think that put any pressure on you or changed your approach in any way?
Ian Desmond: "No, I play the game the same exact way regardless of what's been said. I just like to play hard and whatever happens happens. If I end looking like Jeter on a certain play that's fine, I'm just trying to get the guy out.
FB: I remember reading about how excited you were when Justin Maxwell came back up this year, you and he were friends from your time in the minor leagues, is there anyone else you've played with that fans should be looking out for?
Ian Desmond: "There's a lot of guys down there. Leonard Davis, he's one of my good buddies, he can swing the bat. I mean there's too many for me to name off, I mean, Seth Bynum he hits 20 HR's a year, he's a second baseman, and he's real good with the glove. Pete Orr is one of my favorite teammates ever. Great guy. Great teammate. He's an older guy, veteran that's been around in baseball. He took me under his wing a lot, he's been looking out for me for the last few years. Uh...like I said there's so many, I mean everything that everyone said about our minor leagues being depleted is 100% false. I mean, we have a great minor league system, we have a bunch of guys that work hard, that play hard, that are hungry to be up here."
FB: You're batting second today, any different approach than when you're hitting in the 8-spot, or anything you try to do differently?
Ian Desmond: No. It's the same I just try to have a good solid at bat every time I get up there.
FB: "Finally, there were a lot of questions about your defense at the start of the season, but you've been getting webgems once a week at this point, have you changed anything you're doing or is it just coming up here and being comfortable playing every day?
Ian Desmond: "No, I think it just takes time for people to see me play. It's not easy to go for a ball in the hole on a High-A field where the ball's bouncing every other direction. We'll see what happens throughout the course of the year. I feel comfortable out there. I feel like the team's happy with me out there, the pitchers want me to be out there, and I'm gonna try to keep them happy."
FB: There's that much of a difference in the fields up here?
Ian Desmond: "It's unbelievable. I mean the fields in the minor leagues...it's pretty bad. I mean there's a handful of really good ones. But the fields are nothing like this. The scorekeepers aren't the same. All the circumstances here are a lot better, towards the fielder's advantage."
FB: Any surprises now that you're up on an everyday basis?
Ian Desmond: "No. Everything's the same. It's just the same game."