The Washington Times - September 4, 2011, 01:09AM

When the Nationals took the field Saturday night, they had an infield comprised completely of home grown talent, a pitcher drafted by the organization three years ago, a catcher picked in the Rule 5 draft and nursed through a significant shoulder injury, and a right fielder who is the longest-tenured member of the organization.

Their starting lineup read as follows:


Ian Desmond SS (Selected in the 2004 draft)
Roger Bernadina RF (Signed by the Expos as an amateur free agent, 2001)
Ryan Zimmerman 3B (Selected in the 2005 draft)
Michael Morse LF (trade)
Jayson Werth CF (FA signing)
Danny Espinosa 2B (Selected in the 2008 draft)
Chris Marrero 1B (Selected in the 2006 draft)
Jesus Flores C (Selected in the 2006 Rule 5 draft)
Tom Milone P (Selected in the 2008 draft)

Their current stable of starting pitchers consists of Stephen Strasburg (Selected in the 2009 draft), Jordan Zimmermann (Selected in the 2007 draft), Ross Detwiler (Selected in the 2007 draft), John Lannan (Selected in the 2005 draft), Brad Peacock (Selected in the 2006 draft) and Milone — just to name a few.

As the Nationals young talent becomes more and more major league ready, the more often they’ll field a team like they did Saturday night: almost completely homegrown.

At one point Saturday night, Desmond looked around and thought “I can’t wait for the rest of the guys to come up.”

“I came in this organization when it was supposedly barren,” Desmond said. “They said the Nationals organization wasn’t producing prospects and all the other things. (Nights like Saturday) is what we’re going to see from here on out. It’s not about developing baseball players, it’s about developing winners. Guys who have the heart to play up here and not shy away from the situation.”

“The past two or three years everyone said ‘Give it a couple years and it’ll be there,’” Zimmerman said. “Now we’re finally starting to see some… We’re excited about the young group we have. We’re going to have a fun month of September to see what can happen.” 

Milone was the first, but also a perfect example.

“I think watching other teams and watching our team, there’s certain players that have the fortitude inside them to rise up to the occasion,” Desmond said. “He didn’t seem shaken or bothered out there at all by anything. He looked as comfortable as he would have in A-ball or whatever. I think he rose to the occasion today.”

– Nationals manager Davey Johnson said before the game that he would not play catcher Ivan Rodriguez on his first day off the disabled list. Rodriguez must have worn Johnson down throughout the game, however, as he popped out to pinch hit in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“He told me about four times (that he was fine),” Johnson said.

Rodriguez ground into his 337 career double play (putting him just 13 shy of the all-time major league record, held by Cal Ripken with 350) but he hit an inside screwball from Daniel Herrera that was intended to be an outside pitch. Had it been, Rodriguez told Johnson, he’d have hit it. “If the screwball was away from me I’d have hammered it,” Rodriguez told him.

“I thought that the screwball he was throwing, Pudge would hit him the other way,” Johnson said. “He saw where the catcher was set up and knew they wanted a screwball away and he got it inside.”

– Not to be overlooked was the night that Flores had for the Nationals. Flores, who got the start in part because he caught Milone at Triple-A for much of the season’s first half, also was 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. He would have scored a second, too, but when he opened the pivotal bottom of the ninth with a base hit to left field, Johnson pinch ran for him with Brian Bixler.

It was just Flores’ second multi-hit game of the season, first since August 10, and his first three-hit game of the year.

“Flo had a great game, I think,” Zimmerman said. “He’s really starting to come back around and do what he did a couple years ago before he was hurt.”