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.
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