Tuesday, March 02, 2010
The Ian Desmond Question
Ian Desmond has that look of an athlete. Someone that could be proficient in several sports thanks to god given talents. Former National Alfonso Soriano is the same way. Both can run like a gazelle, jump high and twist through the air with the greatest of ease. With 2010 Spring Training Camp underway for Our Washington Nationals, Desmond is looking to take all his talents and turn them into a regular roster spot on Washington's team. All winter long, the debate has been carried out. Should Cristian Guzman retain his starting job at shortstop? Or, should Ian Desmond take his place. Should "The Guz" play 2nd base and Desmond short, or vice versa? And now with infielder Adam Kennedy on the roster--The Desmond Question continues on. The African Queen and I caught up with Ian Desmond after practice yesterday in Viera, Florida looking for some answers.
You are obviously one of the most interesting people in camp this year.
“Well, thank you.”
You are--because of the constant talk about what position you will play in the big leagues. What do you feel about everything that’s going on surrounding you?
“I don’t feel anything. I am just here trying to have a good time. And whatever happens, happens. I can’t really worry about that because I can’t really control that. Life is too short to worry about that stuff. It’s my job to come in here and show them that I can do the job and do it consistently.”
But it’s got to be difficult for you to play shortstop most all your career and now possibly switching around to a new position or even playing multiple positions in the big leagues as a utility player?
“I don’t think that’s difficult for me. What I think is that it’s a difficult decision for them (management). I believe they are worried about whether I should be a shortstop or an outfielder. For me, personally, I don’t care where--as long as I am up in the big leagues. That is my goal.”
One day I hear that the team wants to play you strictly at shortstop. The next day, I hear that Rizzo and Riggleman want to spread your play around the outfield and make you a super-utility player. Then, Davey Johnson (Special Assistant to The GM) came out the other day and said for a rookie to come play in the big leagues--really for the first time--you should have a set position and play regularly, not a series of jobs where you don’t really have a set role. Did you hear that comment?
“My wife read it and called me about it.”
Any comment about what Johnson said?
“He’s a smart guy. He’s been through it. He knows from his experience. What can I say. If they want me to play different positions, that is what I am going to do. I will pick up my glove, go out on the field and do whatever they tell me.”
So you don’t really prefer playing just one position?
“No. I just prefer being in the big leagues (laughing). I am serious. No matter what. No matter how it comes.”
You forced their hand last year when you improved your game from the previous seasons, not just your fielding, but in your hitting.
“That’s what I have been trying to do. Come out here and do the very best I can. If you hit, they will find a place for you in the big leagues. And if I can hit in spring training, I think I will force their hand again even more. You have to be noticed. They are watching. I need to make the most of it.”
Were you surprised with your power displayed last year?
“No, I really believe I have more power than I've displayed. But, let’s see what happens.”
That home run you hit at Nationals Park on the night of your first big league game was one of the longest home runs ever hit to that part of the park.
“I think so. At least, that’s what they told me."
You are known as an excellent athlete, great range fielding with a terrific arm, but your critics say you make too many errors on simple plays. Is that fair?
“That’s exactly it. Everybody is a critic. I just need to play. I play as hard as I can. If the ball pops out of my glove, the ball pops out of my glove. I am out here working hard every single day to become a better defensive player and I don’t really worry too much about errors. I get to a lot of baseballs that others don’t. And I think the pitchers love having me out there behind them because of that.”
Final question--after all you have been through over the past five years working your way through The Nationals Organization--would you be disappointed being sent down to AAA Syracuse--not knowing personally if you have options left or not?
“Absolutely not. With the way the world is going right now, with a lot of people without jobs. If I get a job to go out to Triple A and play shortstop for fun and I get a paycheck for it too--how can I not be happy about that?”
You have a good attitude?
“Thank you. It’s the only way to be.”
The Ian Desmond Question--to be answered over the next four weeks.
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