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“You hear stuff, comments or whatever, get Desmond out of there, this and that,” Riggleman said. “What they don’t know is how impactful he is on the team. Probably more than anybody on the ballclub last year as we went through some tough times, he stayed just right there. He never wavered.”

The Nationals still are very much a team of the future. Everything written or said about them in the big picture involves a ‘when.’ When third baseman Ryan Zimmerman returns to full health; when outfielder Bryce Harper arrives and when Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann are finally in the starting rotation at the same time.

But as integral as all of those pieces are, so is Desmond playing the way he knows he can.

“The final piece for Desmond is to realize that he is the guy at short,” said Randy Knorr, who managed him for several years in Class A. “He is the man. It doesn’t matter what anybody says anymore. He wants to lead. Every time he’s been on my team he’s always led.”

He’s already got the wife and the baby.

“He’s living the life,” Riggleman said. “He’s got it going well, and he appreciates it and works hard to keep it.”