Sunday, September 13, 2009
Notice how Our Washington Nationals have used Ian Desmond since his call-up from AAA Syracuse early last week. They have only put him into games when the early odds were in his favor. For two days, Washington let Desmond take in his new surroundings while welcoming him to The Big Leagues. No one rushed him out onto the field of play. And in doing so DC's Team didn't add any pressure of having Ian face both Pedro Martinez or Cliff Lee of The Philadelphia Phillies. Both former Cy Young Award Winners--the former a sure possible Hall Of Famer--to begin Ian's Major League Career.
Instead, Interim Manager Jim Riggleman let Desmond start against The Phillies Joe Blanton on Thursday evening at Nationals Park. A good, but not spectacular pitcher. One that tends have bad outings more often. The perfect setup which allowed Our New Number 6 to find a comfort zone and have a breakout performance in his very first Major League Game. Self-determination honed, eagerness held back, while Ian watched those first two Big League Regular Season Games in uniform on the bench.
Gathering the belief: Yeah, I can do this!!
Then notice how in Friday's Pre-Game Interview on WFED with Dave Jageler (and you have to access the archives on mlb.com to hear it), Desmond admitted he was a little overwhelmed by his first start and how well he performed. Jacked up so much, he and his fiancee stayed up late reviewing what had just transpired. Yes, he did state just that.
Success which continued in South Florida on Saturday night (two days later) against Anabel Sanchez--a hard thrower that's pitched well of late coming off shoulder surgery. But not a pitcher that can dominate most any ball game anymore--like his Marlins' Teammate, Josh Johnson, can do.
Another favorable outcome realized only after Interim Jim sat Ian Desmond down on Friday night against the flame throwing Johnson. Not wanting to push the young man too hard and not wishing to let all that first game success go to his head, Our Washington Nationals did not start Desmond during that first game at Land Shark Stadium. Instead, letting him decompress, clear his head once again, Desmond worked with Washington's Coaches on a possible position shift to 2nd Base in pre-game practice on Friday and Saturday.
Taking the pressure off and allowing Ian to get his feet, not only wet, but better planted. Those firm roots grown in a young man's mind. The mental aspect of the game, so important to success. Rather than allowing three dominating and opposing hurlers to get into his head, DC's Team allowed Ian Desmond to keep his head in the game--by letting him find his own personal comfort zone while not being overmatched. Skill sets that always improve when heart and spirit, that youthful exuberance, turns to fearlessness.
The faith in oneself which Ian Desmond quickly has developed on The Major League Level--thanks to Our Washington Nationals putting him into situations he can best prosper.
Notice today, how Ian Desmond's early triumphs forced his bat and glove into the starting lineup. This time at second base against Chris Volstad--another less than spectacular pitcher for The Florida Marlins. And despite being given extra duty switching to 2nd Base for the first time in over five years--in High School--Ian really didn't falter and just as easily adjusted back to shortstop late when the score and poor field conditions warranted the move. The ability to cope and handle change which this 24-Year Old has shown with great aplomb these past seven days.
Poise shown in a display of athletic skill and heady play not seen in DC's infield since Ryan Zimmerman first came on board. Cleverly handled by Washington Management this past week while giving Ian experience directed and organized, not overhyped as Desmond was that first year Baseball returned to Washington, DC in 2005. After five long, wandering, up and down and difficult years in The Minor Leagues for Our Washington Nationals, Ian Desmond has finally reached that time in his baseball career he dreamed of the most. The realization that he not only belongs, but can contribute. This exciting young player giving notice this past week that he has all the skills and ability to be a good Major League Baseball player--if only given the proper chance.
No doubt about it, Ian Desmond served some serious notice this past week playing for Our Washington Nationals.
PS--How about that double play turned by Desmond in the bottom of the 8th inning this afternoon at Land Shark Stadium? Jorge Cantu drives a hard hit ground ball deep into the hole at shortstop. Our Number 6 ranges all the way over to the outfield lip of the grass--more near 3rd base than 2nd, yet had the wherewithal to turn and heave a perfect strike--almost sidearm/underarm to Alberto Gonzalez to retire Hanley Ramirez sliding into the base. Then Our Number 12 had enough time to pivot and throw a perfect strike to retire the slower moving Cantu at 1st base. The Defensive Play Of This Game, made more difficult by the heavy rains falling at the time. Just a terrific twin killing.
Including today's rain soaked, delayed and called 7-2 win, Washington took two out of three from The Florida Marlins this weekend. The first two Curly "W's" all season in South Florida for DC's Team. Nice to see John Lannan come back and get his 9th personal victory of 2009 after not receiving any win in six starts since August 5th at Nationals Park--also against The Fish. John now looking to pick up his 10th victory in any season for the first time after garnering nine wins each of the past two years. Desmond with two more hits today, but also his first two strikeouts. Pete Orr with his first Major League Home Run since 2006 with The Atlanta Braves, ironically hit off Washington and Ramon Ortiz at Turner Field on June 7th, 2006--nearly 300 Major League At-Bats between homers.
And finally, give Tyler Clippard credit today. In a driving rainstorm Our Number 36 handled the baseball and Florida well for two complete shutout innings in the 6th and 7th frames. That's hard to do--control a good hitting team when the baseball is soaking wet. Clippard showed control and command when many other pitchers would not have. More and more looking like a keeper. Gives up the occasional gopher ball--but when he's on, he's on. "No Nonsense" Clippard as The African Queen has called him since our visit to Pittsburgh earlier this year.