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Desmond's Future at SS, 2B, OF... All of the Above?

The Nationals' view towards prospect Ian Desmond's future continued to evolve Tuesday, as Desmond started at second base against the Los Angeles Dodgers -- the fourth consecutive game in which he has started at a different position than the game before -- and interim manager Jim Riggleman suggested his future lies as an outfielder, or even a super-utility player with no set position.

"That's going to be an interesting call there," Riggleman said when asked about Desmond's future position. "He's just such a good athlete. I keep hearing from people that say his best position on the field might be center field... Ian's versatility is going to really give the club a lot of options, [in] that he can play several places on the field and contribute in a lot of ways.

"He's a ballplayer. He's not necessarily a second baseman or a shortstop. He's going to be whatever we need him to be, and I think he's going to be a good one."

Entering Tuesday, Desmond, who turned 24 on Sunday, was hitting .375 with a 1.037 OPS in eight games since being called up, after having a breakout season in the minors (.330 combined between Class AA and AAA).

Though Desmond has been a shortstop his entire professional career - with a propensity for both dazzling plays and errors in bunches -- the Nationals, influenced largely by the presence of veteran Cristian Guzman, have used Desmond at second base in five games, including Tuesday night, with one additional start in right field. Still, in previous comments to the media, both Riggleman and General Manager Mike Rizzo have said they view Desmond's future at shortstop.

In bringing up the possibility of Desmond having a future as an outfielder, Riggleman cited his athleticism, his ability to track down pop-ups in the shallow outfield and the fact scouts who saw Desmond play the outfield as a high schooler gave him positive marks.

"It's been a few years since he's been out there," Riggleman said, "but I think his instincts would allow him to play out there. But certainly, our first priority is to use him in the infield."

Desmond is expected to play in the Dominican winter league, which runs from October to the end of December, and is planning to get married in January.

Assorted, additional nuggets:

*Catcher Wil Nieves (left hamstring strain) worked out on the field before batting practice, but did not attempt any baserunning, and Riggleman said Nieves is "at least a day or two away" from returning to action.

*Former National Ronnie Belliard has essentially supplanted Orlando Hudson as the Dodgers' starting second baseman, and Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said he met privately with Hudson before Tuesday's game to discuss the situation.

"I told [Hudson], without him we wouldn't be where we are, in this situation to win something," Torre said. "But Belliard's hot right now. So we'll just ride it as far as we can and see what happens. But [Belliard has] done a good job. He's helped us win a lot of games."

Entering Tuesday, Belliard was hitting .304 with a .928 OPS in 18 games since being traded from Washington to Los Angeles.

By Dave Sheinin  |  September 22, 2009; 7:38 PM ET
 
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Next: Good Livo, Bad Livo, More Bad Baseball

Comments

An in-game post from Shiner? You go, guy.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 22, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

repost...not to be confused with repast

timeless mlb jerseys...

-- yankees home pinstripes
-- red sox home whites
-- tigers home old english "D"
-- cubs home pinstripes
-- dodgers home and road
-- cardinals home and road
-- giants home and road

Posted by: surly_w | September 22, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: surly_w | September 22, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

From previous thread....

@BinM

There is something almost lyrical about hearing Scully call the team the "Daw-jahs" in his New York accent.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 22, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I know the Nats are on, but I have muted it to listen to the AAA Championship Game. The play-by-play guy, Mike Capps is outstanding. He would be a tremendous upgrade from Carpenter. Consider me a former Carpenter fan at this point. We need Capps.

Posted by: MinorLeagueFanatic | September 22, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Shouldn't it be conclusively proven that Desmond can't play SS before considering moving him off the position or converting him into a utility player? Gonzalez seems more suited for the latter role.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 22, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

if Riggleman had any nuts...and had not been hired off the bench of the worst team in baseball where all these .300 stiffs are his buddy buddy.............he would tell Guzman to get his A** over to 2b... or SIT ON THE BENCH the rest of the season........Riggleman HAS TO GO and an OUTSIDER with no buddies who puts the entire roster on notice that when spring training starts everyone is a zero...As i see it , 3 positions are covered....3B...CF....and one of the corner fields with Willingham....Hopefully Dunn can be traded to the AL where he belongs and a trade heist similar to the deal that brought the NOTS Morgan from Pittsburgh...will be duplicated...

Posted by: FletcherChristian1 | September 22, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I cannot watch this anymore.

Posted by: oneleggedNatsFan | September 22, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but shouldn't Desmond be given a chance at both positions, **NOT** for Guzman but because of Espinosa? Definitely not RF. That is Riggleman trying to give Orr the job.

I agree Riggleman needs a replacement.

Looks like they are now down to 2 starting pitchers: Lannan and JD Martin?

Posted by: periculum | September 22, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

@Fletcher

Unfortunately, Riggs is the template for the modern "manager," who often is nothing more than a front-office caretaker or lackey. This isn't like 30 to 40 years ago when guys like Dick Williams, Billy Martin, Earl Weaver. Leo Durocher or Gil Hodges not only ran the dugout but the team on the field. In 1969 you probably couldn't name the general managers of 20 of the 24 MLB teams. But now, managers have the front office looking over their shoulders and in some cases instructing the alleged manager what personnel to play. These days the only throwback managers I can think of are Tony LaRussa, Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Lou Pinella. Leaders these days aren't so peerless....

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 22, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

"As i see it , 3 positions are covered....3B...CF....and one of the corner fields with Willingham..."

If Dukes plays winter ball and improves you have to take him over Willingham. Speed. Fielding.

By your own logic perhaps both Willingham and Dunn should be traded? If anything you keep Dunn because he is a left handed power guy ... versus Willingham who is yet another right handed guy.

Posted by: periculum | September 22, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

OM[AB]G. They are going to totally [RF] this kid. *They're* clueless, so they're going to screw around with *his* development, *his* head, and *his* career. This will all end in tears, mark my words.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 22, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Chico

You are a man with your ear to the ground, are the Pirates trying to catch the Nats and get the #1 pick? We know the Nats are bad but my goodness your Pirates have been putrid of late. Whats the word on the street?

Posted by: jfromPG | September 22, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

G'night, Gracie.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 22, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Belliard can't start or play 2B for the worst team in baseball, but he can bat third (and play 2B) for a team going to the playoffs. I think this says as much about the brain trust of the Nats as the incomprehensible commitment to Guzman at short.

Posted by: ammonite88 | September 22, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

ammonite88

the difference is belliard was CHEAP inventory; guzman is EXPENSIVE inventory.

Posted by: surly_w | September 22, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

99 -- I can't take this no more ...
http://tinyurl.com/ldv8mw

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 22, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Saul won't be back ... who's next Bergmann?

Posted by: periculum | September 22, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

I really don't think he will be here for long if he doesn't wear his cap straight. I am serious. Decades go by and the players all wear the cap straight. Who is he or Sean Burnett to wear their caps like a rap music singer? They're going to be hazed until they cry their way home. Ha ha!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 22, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

ponce.....what?

Posted by: jfromPG | September 22, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Desmond might be hazed out of the league. Burnett too.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 22, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I just heard Dibble and Carpenter say that Dunn had never played 1B in his career before this year. A quick check shows he played some 1B every year he was with the Reds. You might think they would know that by now, considering Dunn's been here for a while now and all.

Posted by: ammonite88 | September 22, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

>interim manager Jim Riggleman suggested his future lies as an outfielder, or even a super-utility player with no set position.

More evidence that the Gnats' appreciation of how to develop talent has a loooooong way to go. Hell, the Gnats need a catcher, stick him there too.

Posted by: MartinZook | September 22, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

The more I watch Desmond, the more I am convinced he is not an infielder. He may not be an outfielder, either. But he's definitely NOT a middle infielder.

Now that the Dodgers are all set with Belly-hard at 2B for the next decade or two, can we take Orlando Hudson off their hands?

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 22, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

You know our young pitchers that we brought up this year have not all panned out (heck - we may not keep any of them at the major league level) - so why don't we try Desmond on the mound? What the heck.

Posted by: bigmook | September 22, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I like it, BigMook. But it's 14-to-2...the perfect spot for Logan "It's Outta Here" Kensing. Can anyone say 20-2?

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 22, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

"The more I watch Desmond, the more I am convinced he is not an infielder. He may not be an outfielder, either. But he's definitely NOT a middle infielder."

You've just described Mike Morse who is probably a better hitter? Are you saying Desmond is another Mike Morse?

Posted by: periculum | September 22, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Disagree -- we have seen, what, two games where Desmond has played the only position he has played since highschool (shortstop)? I say let him play the rest of the season as SHORT and then we can see if he can be a better infielder than the cement-footed Guzman.

Posted by: ammonite88 | September 22, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

That's one more game to 100 losses.

Posted by: periculum | September 22, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

the road to the century mark is now as short as a driveway. i don't mind getting beaten, but getting embarrassed is a whole 'nother matter.

Posted by: surly_w | September 22, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I second that emotion, surly. I turned away at about the same time as one-legged NF, evidently. On the bright side, Dunn is now within a couple of dingers of pulling ahead of the Babe in the annual totals category. What? Oh. Never mind.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 22, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

The Padres have made it known that Adrian Gonzalez is going to be available,better hitter, hit's with power, and a better situational hitter than Dunn with less strikeout's not to mention a better fielder if i'm Rizzo i try to get a starter and a pitching prospect for Dunn but no matter what you get Gonzalez. Tonight was obviously bad baseball and the last few weeks have sealed Riggleman's fate, maybe that's why Rizzo got Foli in mind and that's why he's been in the dugout since the Chief's season ended.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 22, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

According to recent quotes I read from Rizzo, they brought Foli up because they have him in mind as an organizational farm director rather than a manager. But these are the same people who see Ian Desmond as an outfielder, so who knows?

Posted by: nunof1 | September 22, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

yea, sofa, i'm with you on their [AB]-ing up Desmond. i'm not the least bit encouraged to hear they'll super-utility the guy. (is that a verb?)

it won't be long before his skills deteriorate in every position and he winds up being Joe Mediocre.

Not that there's anything wrong with mediocrity, i find it's highly underrated, just not on my team.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 22, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

also, sofa, this is better! =)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEgP2mJ51UA

Posted by: NatsNut | September 22, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

14-2 losses are easy to take this time of year. It's 3-2 or 2-1 that kill you. All the Leevo lovers can go buy his his batting helmet on the Mets Web site.

Twelve games for Mr. Dunn to get 2 more

Posted by: nats24 | September 22, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Yep, root for A.D. to get his 40. Other than that, not much else. I just hope the Nats don't fall into the Redskins syndrome whereas the off season is the best season.

Posted by: cokedispatch | September 23, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Re: Foli, it is pretty routine around baseball to have one of the organization's minor league managers in the big league dugout in September, mostly for another pair of hands, but also as a reward for a long season. I wouldn't read too much into it in regards to the managerial position in DC.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | September 23, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

OMG! I cannot believe they're really thinking of doing this to Desmond. Just play him at short the rest of the way. I like Guzman, but they're giving him too much authority over who gets to play out in short. Do we know what we have in Desmond over at short? The answer is NO. Then why would you say he is better suited for another position? It drives me crazy. Someone does need to grow some cojones and make some cold hard decisions around here. How about the Yankee bench coach Tony Pena. He was Manager of the Year once. Just get someone that scares people. Larry Bowa would be fun. Kirk Gibson. Joey Cora I still like a lot. Please!!!

Posted by: big_game_lannan | September 23, 2009 2:55 AM | Report abuse

And Poncedelroy: Dude, get with the system. If a player performs, do you really care about the hat sideways? Look at Nyjer. You can't hate on Nyjer. (BTW I miss T. Plush)

Posted by: big_game_lannan | September 23, 2009 2:58 AM | Report abuse

Hey, where is everybody?

http://www.clipland.com/Live/video/4770

Ohhhh. Never mind.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 23, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

How about this one, sec3 and NatsNut. I think it works nicely, other than the fact that it's off by two.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyk3AEXvmLg

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 23, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Well, *she* liked it.

http://www.maxand99.com/images/86992.jpg

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 23, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I really think the handling of Desmond should damage Riggleman's chances of getting the managerial job. The team was losing but playing hard until the Desmond RF Mets game. Right now I think they -- and I mean management -- owe STH's an apology for a 14 - 2 loss that featured appearances by Estrada, Garate, Segovia and Logan Kensing. I paid $35 to park, and $50 bucks a pop to watch that. If you're not trying to win the game, charge spring training prices. Its $20 a seat and $5 to park in Viera.

Posted by: raymitten | September 23, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Why anyone would pay $35 to park at last night's game is beyond me. Park at RFK and take the free shuttle. Park at The Yards right across the street from the stadium for $25, or a little further down the road for $20. Paying the team more than the going rate just to park in their garages or lots is stupid.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 23, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I find it stunning that some posters keep yelling for the Nats front office to trade Dunn (for prospects, no less!), as if a 40 HR, 100 RBI,high OBP guy is both easy to acquire and not a crucial need for a major league baseball team. (most likely the same posters that screamed to dump Belliard because he wasn't good enough to play for the Nats).

(and for those who can't resist the snark response, go ahead and post that the Nats aren't a MLB team)

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | September 23, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Wow, those are some ugly ERA's in the box score and on the roster. Has there ever been a worse performing staff? Talent, shmallent...this has reached a level of failure worth examining. The sum total of last night's Box Score ERA's 65.71. Team ERA YTD 5.17. If you add up this year's ERA for the 10 worst players who pitched on this team it adds up to 100 (rounded up from 99.83).

Posted by: natbiscuits | September 23, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

And speaking of Dunn, I am so incredibly impressed with him at 1B. And thankful that he hasn't turned the infield into a circus.

Watching him in left field was so painful. Even the balls he actually caught (easy ones included), I would hold my breath and then curse at how he got rid of the ball.

He may not be gold glove potential, but based on what I know about him in left field I think his 1B stuff has been stellar.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 23, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Yes, trade Dunn to the AL and you get a starter and that teams top A or AA prospect.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 23, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article on Desmond, the team's take on him reminds me of a young Melvin Mora, someone you could potentially stick almost anywhere and if that is what Desmond turns into for the Nats, good for us!

Viva Ronnie!

Posted by: markfd | September 23, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Desmond's bat wouldn't allow him to play the outfield. He doesn't have enough power to play the OF. A player's bat tells you where to play him. If Desmond, as he hits now, were only an outfielder, he wouldn't make it. The ONLY thing that makes him of any value is that he plays two relatively light-hitting positions, SS and 2B. This club doesn't know what the hell they're doing, and Riggleman's an ass for verbalizing the confusion about his position. They're all dumb as dog****.

Posted by: Brue | September 23, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

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