It hasn't been easy to stick with him and wait, but day after day this season, to the point that many have questioned the logic behind their thinking, the Washington Nationals have run Ian Desmond out there at short as the 29-year-old, soon-to-be free agent has tried to grind through his troubles and get back on track offensively.
In an MLB Network Radio interview last month, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo talked about trusting the veteran shortstop and believing that he would eventually start producing like has in the past.
"I see Ian Desmond becoming the Ian Desmond that we've all grown accustomed to here," Rizzo told hosts Mike Ferrin and Mike Stanton.
"He's a guy that has a track record and as we project down the road in each and every offseason, we've projected him to be an impact guy for us and we're still confident that he will get things going and become an offensive and defensive threat for us that we can count on later on in the season."
In 84 games in the so-called "first-half" of the 2015 campaign, Desmond put up a .211/.255/.334 line in 348 plate appearances, over which he hit 17 doubles and seven home runs.
After his two home runs last night in the Nats' 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Desmond has a .277/.341/.578 line with two doubles and seven home runs in his last 23 games and 92 PAs.
Matt Williams talked last week about seeing positive signs from Desmond when the infielder hit his 12th home run of the season in a 2 for 4 game in the Nationals' 8-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"The homer I think was a changeup, a first-pitch changeup," Williams said. "So that tells me he's seeing the baseball and that's good. And the next time he hit one off the wall to left as well. It's short. It's compact. He was calm today at the plate which is important for him and put the head on the ball. That's all he needs to do."
After last night's 3 for 4 game in LA, Desmond is 11 for 34 (.324/.378/.647 line) with two doubles, three home runs, three walks and eight Ks in his last nine games.
"Ian's been swinging the bat well the last couple weeks," Ryan Zimmerman told reporters after he went 1 for 4 with a walk in last night's win.
"I've played with Ian for a long time. He's going to continue to grind it out and work hard. That's why he's earned the respect that he has around here. I don't think anyone is pulling for him more than the guys in this clubhouse."
So what's been different for Desmond?
"Picked on a curveball the first time up," Williams said of the first home run, "and then got a 3-1 fastball out, over. He hit the ball hard to second base. He's just continuing to see it well."
From his view in the dugout, Williams said he's been able to see some good signs from Desmond.
"I see him from the side, so what I can see from the side is he's sitting down in the batter's box a little bit," Williams explained.
"He's not drifting towards the pitcher. He's seeing it fine. His hands are lightning-quick, we know that and if he can sit down a little bit he sees it longer, it allows him to get in the strike zone. He's walked some lately, which is a good sign."
"If he's not moving toward the pitcher, it helps," Williams added.
"Any time you move toward the pitcher the fastball gets better and the breaking ball gets better. So if he's able to be a little more calm in the batter's box and sit down a little bit, then that's what he can do."
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