- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2013

Not much has changed for Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond when it comes to a possible contract extension. The team is still open to discussing one with Desmond, and Desmond is still open to considering it.

“I’m trying to do everything I can to win a World Series,” Desmond said Monday morning, before the Nationals’ 2-0 Opening Day victory over the Marlins. “Talking about that, or revisiting that, isn’t really going to help. We’ll see where it goes.”

Desmond has said he has no desire to play anywhere else, but he’s also in no hurry to sign an extension with three seasons in front of him before any potential free agency.

The only difference for Desmond and the Nationals now is they have something of a template for a possible extension in the eight-year, $120 million deal that Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus agreed to late Sunday night.

Andrus, 24, signed a three-year, $14.4 million deal with the Rangers in February 2012 that bought out all of his arbitration years. The new deal keeps him under the Rangers‘ control through 2022 and has an opt-out after four years.

If the Nationals and Desmond are to seriously return to the negotiating table, Andrus‘ deal will likely be brought up. While Andrus is younger and has more years of offensive consistency, Desmond posted better numbers in his breakout 2012 season than Andrus has in his career, and has shown the ability to hit for more power.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo deflected a question about a possible extension with Desmond on Monday morning but reiterated that he views the shortstop as an integral part of the team.

“We don’t discuss negotiations with players and that type of thing,” Rizzo said. “But we feel Ian is one of our leaders. He’s one of the guys that is our core players and he’s a guy we’d like to be with the Nationals for a long time.”

Ramos‘ emotional return

Wilson Ramos popped out of the dugout just after noon Monday and began his warm-up. As he and Stephen Strasburg made their way to the bullpen, Ramos took in the scene. He was overwhelmed.

“I’m excited for this moment today,” he said. “I felt like this was my first game in the big leagues. I was almost crying when I was in the bullpen today.”

Ramos is just eight months removed from the second of two surgeries on his right knee. The first was to repair his meniscus, the second his anterior cruciate ligament. His rehab has been spotless, and his commitment to improving himself has drawn raves.

Ramos has lost roughly 18 pounds, his slimmer physique giving him added agility behind the plate and making recovery easier on his knee. He was 1 for 2 with a walk and caught nine combined scoreless innings from Strasburg, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano.

“It was almost like he never left,” Clippard said. “I felt very comfortable with him out there. I’m just happy for him to get back into the swing of things. I know he’s worked his tail off to get back to this point.”

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