Ian Desmond’s star on the rise for Nationals

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“He’s about as solid as you can get there at making the routine plays and he gets to balls and makes plays that shouldn’t look as easy as he makes them look. … Ian’s obviously very athletic but he’s a very intelligent player, too. He really pays attention to what goes on around him.”

A week ago, asked if he thought Desmond deserved to be on the National League All-Star team when it’s unveiled in 2 1/2 weeks, manager Davey Johnson said he did — but that the competition would be stiff with players like Tulowitzki, Cabrera and Brewers rookie Jean Segura.

That may be true, but he’s putting together a compelling case.

“He’s definitely in the top echelon of shortstops just the way he’s worked his butt off to command the position,” right-hander Craig Stammen said. “That used to be his most difficult aspect. And now he dominates it. He makes the routine plays, makes the spectacular plays — and he hits with all those guys, too.”

“Anytime you have a guy like Tulo and Desi, people don’t realize how big those guys are,” added Zimmerman. “Shortstop is such a premium position, defensively, but if you have a guy who can lead the team defensively and be an offensive force like him and Tulo and even [Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, it’s huge]. It’s not an easy position to find an impact player at, and Desi is definitely one of those guys.

“He’s a very dynamic player. He’d be my vote.”

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