Ian Desmond was presented with the team’s Heart & Hustle award shortly before the team’s game against the Florida Marlins Tuesday night, a testament to the way Desmond plays the game — in spite of what even he termed a “sub-par” offensive season.
“It’s nice to be recognized that people see it and appreciated it,” Desmond said. “It’s unquantifiable by numbers, but I think the organization sees it, otherwise I probably would have been sent down a long time ago. Sub-par offense and defense doesn’t keep you in the big leagues for that long.
“I think the organization sees it and they see that I lay it all out there every game. They appreciate it and it’s nice to know that other people see it outside the organization.”
Speaking of outside the organization, Desmond’s name is one that continues to come up in trade rumors as we approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. While sources have insisted to the Washington Times that Desmond is unlikely to be traded and considered a part of the team’s “core,” they’re still receiving calls on the 25-year-old shortstop. The speculation is hard to ignore.
“People that say they don’t pay attention to it or haven’t heard it, i think they’re lying,” he said. “We all have families back home and they read and they know, they follow it. They can’t help but say, hey, what’s going on? It’s out of your control.”
It’s certainly been a different animal for Desmond, who’s been in the Nationals organization since 2004, but he insisted, like most players do, that since it’s out of his control all he can do is continue to play the game.
“I’ve been here a long time,” he said. “This isn’t even about baseball for me. I have a lot of family here in this organization. I’ve been here since I was 18 years old. There are guys who are father figures to me. I’ve got teammates who are brothers. To leave this organization would be hard. But it’s a job, and as long as I have a uniform on, I’ll be happy.”
Desmond’s offense has been a hot topic this season as he’s seen his average hover below the .250 mark and currently sits at .226 as the Nationals open game No. 101 on the season. He’s well aware that he hasn’t produced offensively the way he’s capable of but Nationals manager Davey Johnson is trying to watch Desmond’s approach at the plate mature.
Desmond has never been a guy who walks much. He’s an aggressive player by nature — and that’s helped him to 20 stolen bases already this season. He’s improved his patience a little more lately but it’s not something that comes extremely naturally to him.
As a 15-year-old, Desmond took a trip with his AAU team to the Dominican Republic. When they were there, he remembered one slogan: “You can’t walk your way off the island.”
The idea stuck.
“That was something I took to heart at the time and for some reason it just stuck with me,” Desmond said, noting he was reminded of that when he reminisced with a childhood coach this past road trip when the team was in Atlanta. “I wanted to be aggressive and I wanted to go out there and make things happen. Backing off a notch and trying to change my whole gameplan I’ve had since I was a kid is not easy but if that’s what they want me to do, that’s what I’ll do.”