On the disabled list since July 22 with a strained left oblique that also kept him out of the All-Star Game, Desmond recovered more quickly than the expected five weeks.
“A couple at-bats and I’ll be right back to where I’ve been,” said Desmond, hitting in his familiar No. 6 spot against the New York Mets. “I feel way better than I felt before the break.”
Desmond wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent, but he pointed out that few players in the clubhouse would make such a claim with six weeks remaining in the season. He played catch and swung the bat without pain during Thursday’s off day in his final test.
“I never even knew what a rehab assignment was when I was a ballplayer,” Johnson said.
Watching Desmond swing without discomfort in recent days — pain forced him to bunt during one at-bat in the Marlins series shortly before went on the disabled list — reassured Johnson. The manager doesn’t plan to ease Desmond back into action and admits utilityman Steve Lombardozzi, who upped his average to .280, will spend much more time on the bench.
Even with the extra infield depth, Johnson hopes to keep Izturis in the organization. A nameplate and jersey still hung in his locker before Friday’s game. Claimed on waivers from the Brewers 11 days ago, Izturis scored four runs in five games. The team has 10 days to trade or release him. If he clears waivers, something Johnson doubts will happen, the Nationals can send him to Triple-A Syracuse until rosters expand in September.
“He was a great insurance policy,” Johnson said.