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Ian Desmond's time and morning links

Every team has its big-time, can't miss prospects, the players whose feats in minor league outposts are often whispered about but rarely seen, the players whose promise fills fans with hope. For the entire existence of the Washington Nationals, that player has been Ian Desmond.

Desmond has been around since the very beginning. One of the first stories Barry Svrluga ever wrote from Viera was a feature about the 19-year-old kid grabbing everyone's attention with his spectacular defense and hot hitting. This was the story when Jim Bowden compared him to Derek Jeter.

That spring, Frank Robinson told him he would make a push for the big leagues by 22. When he turned 23, he still hadn't played above Class AA. But the wait and external expectations never bothered him. I talked to Desmond on Saturday for the story that ran today in what will soon become wrapping paper for a broke college student. The next day, he won the starting job. Even before he knew, he was appreciative of his time with the Nationals, both the good times and the rough ones.

"I knew that eventually I was going to get to the big leagues," Desmond said. "I play the game the right way. I play hard. In some aspect, I thought the team eventually would need me. I love playing baseball. Whether I got to the big leagues or not, I'm prepared to play baseball the rest of my life. Whether it's in the big leagues or the minor leagues, I'm going to be doing something in baseball forever."

At times, Nationals brass took heat for trying to rush Desmond, like when he began his second full season in Class AA Harrisburg only to last 121 at-bats before receiving a demotion. That wasn't fun for Desmond, but he wouldn't change the experience.

"Six years in the minor leagues, you gain a little knowledge from him, from somebody, from somebody else, it all adds up," Desmond said. "I credit the way that I play to the minor leagues. They developed me perfect, in my eyes. I wouldn't change anything they did. There was so much issue -- 'Oh, they tried to rush him.' That was all perfect to me. At the time it might have sucked. But it formed me into who I am right now. You can't take any of that back. I might not be the same player I am right now."

Meanwhile, Danny Espinosa is trying to use a new addition to his swing to join Desmond soon. Ryan Zimmerman took questions from readers. When President Obama throws out the first pitch opening day, it will be a second chance for him. Stephen Strasburg's debut date has a lot of folks checking their schedules and calendars.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 30, 2010; 8:35 AM ET
 
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Next: Today's lineups

Comments

I long for the day that we have our real line up set. WE will have a great mix of power and speed.

C: Norris
1st: Dunn
2nd: Espinsoa
SS: Desmond
3rd: Zimm
RF: Marrero (as long as Dunn stays)
CF: Morgan
LF: Harper

Posted by: hansenjo | March 30, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I went back and read that glowing article by Barry on Desmond when the kid was just 19.

Guzman has obviously known this day was coming for some time now.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | March 30, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I'm hoping the Nats trade Dunn to Boston this summer. If big Papi continues to decline and the Sox are trailing NYY (and TB?) they will be ready to make a deal. Dunn for Michael Bowden perhaps?

Posted by: estuartj | March 30, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Now, this guy Desmond is a real "mensch"! It's great to read about his fantastic attitude and approach to playing, his enthusiasm, and his drive. It is these types of players that make up the best in baseball, and I'm thrilled to have him on the team.

Break a bat, Ian! You've earned your shot!

Posted by: luv2bikva | March 30, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I like his attitude, too. Go get 'em, Ian!

Also, I lol'ed at the "Barry Svrluga" link.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 30, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article on Espinoza on MASN linked in the above story. It's going to be an amazing time to be in Harrisburg with him, Strasburg, Storen, Marrero and Burgess as regulars. I'll bet sometime in May you'll also see Norris in with the above.

Not unrealistic to see Strasburg, Storen, Marrero & Espinoza all in the bigs come September.

Posted by: estuartj | March 30, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

From Adam's dead tree edition article on Ian Desmond:

...Six years, or one full quarter of Desmond's life, have passed since he first stepped into this clubhouse and pulled on a Washington Nationals uniform. HE WAS A PART OF THEIR FUTURE BEFORE THEY HAD A PAST.

kudos. Great line!

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | March 30, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I was a Senators fan and went to the last game in '71. I was there for the first Nats game in 2005. And for the first time in my life my hometown baseball team has a future. We are going to be, one day soon, a dominant team. And I never thought I would be alive to see it. God, I love baseball. Go Nats!!!!

Posted by: eddie5 | March 30, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a Desmond fan but agree we have to see if he can at least play short until Espinosa is ready. We survived Lopez, Bonifacio, and Anderson Hernandez as starting middle infielders, so we can survive Desmond. Glad Guzman is still around, at least for a while.

Who cares if we are starting the season with a shortstop who made 5 errors in spring training and a first baseman who made 3?

Go Nats.

Posted by: longhorn64 | March 30, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The Nats seem to have settled on this year's shortstop -- the shortstop of the future...until Espinosa comes around? Makes one wonder if the team is better moving Espinosa to 2nd base, or trying Desmond in right field in a year or two. Funny how that old article seems to take his defense as a given superlative, and says his rise depends on his offense. The latter half of that statement has proven true. We'll have to see about the defense.

As for estuartj's comment about trading Dunn this year, I'm all for it. Let's hope Marrero shows he can master the position. If he looks like he'll be ready for the bigs next year, the team would be much better off trading AD.

Posted by: fischy | March 30, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I think the team is counting on Desmond and Espinoza being the MI combo of the future, but who is better suited for SS and 2B? I'm guessing Danny is a SS and Ian a 2B "longterm" with a few candidates in the minors if either falters.

Posted by: estuartj | March 30, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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