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Lineups, With A Surprise

Harris - 8
Guzman - 6
Zimmerman - 5
Dunn - 3
Willingham - 7
Orr - 4
Desmond - 9
Bard - 2
Lannan - 1

New York

Pagan - 8
Castillo - 4
Wright - 5
Francoeur - 9
Tatis - 7
Murphy - 3
Valdez - 6
Thole - 2
Redding - 1

Check out that lineup; it's not a misprint. Ian Desmond, for the first time in his professional career, is playing right field. When I spotted Desmond today in the clubhouse, he was wearing Justin Maxwell's outfield mitt, breaking it in for feel. "If they have confidence to put me out there," he said, "I'll do it."


Here is what Jim Riggleman said about the move.

Q: Why is Ian Desmond playing right field today?

Well, a couple things. One, indirectly, it's trying to get Pete Orr in the ballgame. Tomorrow Maine is pitching; lefties have had a real hard time with him, so I'm trying to keep Pete a little bit sharp, play him today and Guzy today. So to keep Ian in there, it pretty much had to be right field today. I talked to Elijah some time ago about, he's pretty much going to be playing three out of four days with a day off. Today's the day off.

Q: Beginning even with Anderson Hernandez when you starting tossing him into the outfield now and then, it seems like you have a philosophy that players are pretty much players, and it doesn't take that much to be versatile.

Well, I think athletes. There are some guys who really are geared to one position. But you mention Anderson Hernandez. I'm confident you could put Anderson in the outfield or infield, he's gonna do a serviceable job if not a real good job. In Ian Desmond's case, we'll find out. His history in the game before he was a professional was in the outfield. He got into pro ball and has been a shortstop exclusively. We've played him at second; he's done fine. So I think if he can play short and he can play second, I'm not saying he's going to be a Gold Glove outfielder, but I think he should make the routine play, and if he doesn't, that's on me. But yeah, I do believe as you say that it's a very valuable asset to have if you can not just have a guy who only plays one position. If Pete Orr can move around on the field, Desmond can move around on the field, Gonzalez -- if these guys can move around and play different positions, you don't get locked in during the course of the game.

Q: This might happen again before the year is out?

I would say it could, based on who's pitching and necessity, somebody is banged up or something. Yeah, it could happen. But it's something that I think as the ballclub is put together for the future, we don't know what Mike [Rizzo] is gonna find this winter. He might find a second baseman we can't pass up. We have Cristian Guzman at short. Where does that leave Ian Desmond? He may find a shortstop. Guzman may be at second. Desmond may be all over the field. So we don't want to have a situation where Mike can't acquire talent because we've got some people here who can only play one position.

Q: Before you decide on something like this, do you talk to Mike?

Yeah. I told Mike we might play him in the outfield, and he was like, 'Yeah, you can do that.' You know, we're last in the league in defense. So I think there's no wrong answers. We've got to try everything. It's not like we've been Gold-Gloving it all over the field and can't try something. I think most middle infielders can pretty much go anywhere on the field and be respectable, and that's what we think he'll do.

Q: It's kind of like when you were talking about playing Ian at second and you said, 'It's not gonna cost us the pennant.' You almost have the license, based on your record, to experiment.

You're right. And you know, you never want to be where we are in the standings. But when you are... there's a reaction to what you've created, and the reaction is that we're gonna try some things... We're searching. We can't just say, 'We're OK.' Because we're not OK. We're in last place. So that's not OK. We're just looking at some different things.

Q: You talked earlier about respecting teams that are in the postseason race. Are you more likely to make a move like this in a series like this?

Yeah. Well, yeah. The Mets are out of it, we're out of it. I would hesitate to experiment with a position if we're playing the Dodgers next week, if Atlanta is in it next week. But we're out of it, the Mets are out of it, so you've got a little more leeway with what we can do.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 19, 2009; 12:19 PM ET
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Next: Mets 3, Nats 2


Take that, Mets! You guys are so bad we're sticking Desmond in right field!

Posted by: shepdave2003 | September 19, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

are interim managers subject to drug testing?

Posted by: surly_w | September 19, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

What does this move say to Elijah Dukes? Dez has a hot bat, but...

Posted by: Roscoe4 | September 19, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

It does not say anything to Dukes...notice everybody has had a game off the last week or so even the hot bats .....Dukes gets his today and we get to see Dez in another role.

Posted by: CBinDC | September 19, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Another interesting turn in positions, and a nice explanation by Riggleman. Nice work, Chico.

Posted by: BinM | September 19, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

What does this say to Maxwell? Riggleman would rather use a player with NO MAJOR LEAGUE EXPERIENCE in the OF rather than Maxwell.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 19, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

if maxwell is even in the majors next year he;ll be a fifth outfielder used for late-inning defensive replacement. j-max, we hardly knew ye.

Posted by: surly_w | September 19, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Orr has played RF before. I agree with Ray Knight that in a quirky ballyard, this is not a great idea for Desmond.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | September 19, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Maxwell(not the singer) has options he has a degree his mom and dad have a thriving business(i think) he can go back to school listen i would love to see the kid make it but i'm not sure he's long for this team and if he can't make it here well........ Now, who's managing this team next year?

Posted by: dargregmag | September 19, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Both Maxwell & Dukes will most likely be back in the lineup tomorrow with Maine starting for the Mets.

Posted by: BinM | September 19, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Carp and Dibs said Riggles told Dukes he'd play 3/4 of the remaining games. I'm fine with that, but put Orr out there please.

Names I've seen for manager next season...

Kirk Gibson

Posted by: Roscoe4 | September 19, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

To add to the manager's search, I believe Phil Wood (respect his insight, question his hair) has mentioned Don Mattingly. He certainly has the pedigree and has sat at Torre's feet long enough to merit consideration. I'm also thinking Jim Zorn may be available.

Posted by: jfromPG | September 19, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Roscoe: At this point, just about anybody who has managed in the bigs recently, but is out of work or coaching is a "candidiate" for the Nats' job. Bob Melvin, Willie Randolph, etc. Throw Tim Foli onto your list as well, while you're at it.

Posted by: BinM | September 19, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

@jfromPG: Boswell has also mentioned Mattingly as a future MGR somewhere. If his family/personal problems are cleared up, don't see why he wouldn't want to give it a shot in DC.

Posted by: BinM | September 19, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Future manager, here or elsewhere: DeMarlo Hale.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | September 19, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse


After promoting Acta from the coaching lines, I think the Nats will probably want to go with a more "established (read: recycled)" manager for 2010. But after the retread is shown the door, Hale would be a good candidate.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 19, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

desmond is human after all.

Posted by: surly_w | September 19, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Nice pass route by Desmond out there in right field. If Milledge's pass routes were enough to get Acta fired, will Desmond's do in Riggleman?

Posted by: nunof1 | September 19, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

remember....dunnkeys have hooves, not hands.

Posted by: surly_w | September 19, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Lannan spit the bit to start the eighth inning; Cruising along with a low pitch count, then gives up three straight hard-hit fly balls.

Posted by: BinM | September 19, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

oops, meant the seventh inning.

Posted by: BinM | September 19, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Argghhh, Bloody Pirates

Posted by: jfromPG | September 19, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Completely off topic, but I gotta cool piece of trivia. Adam Dunn hit his 300th homer on the 4th of July this year. Know who else hit his 300th homer on the 4th of July? Mickey Mantle. Know what team he was playing when he hit it? The Washington Senators.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 19, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Who? Mickey Mantle!

Posted by: Scooter_ | September 19, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

@NN: Trivial, yes; Cool, not so much.

Sorry, I'm still angry about Lannan's about-face in the 7th. He had the game there for the taking & completely punked it; ACK!

Posted by: BinM | September 19, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

BinM, why even bother commenting on it then? Sheesh. It IS cool, thank you very much. Now go pout in the corner and leave me alone.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 19, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Desmond in RF is a new low. Either Rigs or Rizzo is a moron, or both.Rigs said "there are no wrong answers."OK, put Dunn at SS, and call me tomorrow. In one dumb move Rigs undercut Dukes, Lannan, lost the game, and undermined Desmond. Idiots.

Posted by: woodling14 | September 19, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I was out and didn't see the game. Sounds like that may be just as well.

That is a cool factoid, NatsNut. I think that one of the broadcasters may have mentioned it at that time, but I may be misremembering.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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