Good evening from Nationals Park, where the boys are opening their final homestand of the season. They’ve got three games with the Dodgers, three with the Braves and then three with the Mets before closing out the season on the road at Atlanta.
The Dodgers’ arrival in town for their lone appearance of the season in the District brings Ronnie Belliard back for the first time since he was traded Aug. 30 for pitchers Victor Garate and Luis Garcia. Belliard has done quite well for himself since heading out to L.A. In 18 games with his new team, Belliard is batting .304 with four homers and 14 RBI. He’s been so good, manager Joe Torre has been forced to bench All-Star second baseman Orlando Hudson in favor of him.
It appears being a part of a pennant race has re-energized the 34-year-old.
“I’m here for 23-24 days,” Belliard said. “They give everything on the field, so I’m doing the same thing.”
Belliard’s departure has left second base wide open in Washington, and interim manager Jim Riggleman has been basically rotating three guys (Alberto Gonzalez, Pete Orr and Ian Desmond) through that position. Desmond is back tonight, and he was the subject of much of Riggleman’s pregame media session.
Desmond is a natural shortstop. That’s all he played in the minor leagues. But in his first two weeks in the majors, he’s already made more starts at second base (five) than shortstop (three). Throw in that surprise start in right field over the weekend in New York, and all of a sudden, there are questions about his long-term position.
So the question was raised to Riggleman this afternoon: Do you look at Desmond as a shortstop long-term?
“That’s going to be an interesting call there,” Riggleman said. “He’s such a good athlete. I keep hearing from people that his best position on the field might be center field. Of course, we look forward to having Nyjer Morgan back and being out there. But Ian’s versatility is gonna really give the club a lot of options. He could play several places on the field and contribute in a lot of ways. He’s a ballplayer. He’s not necessarily a second baseman or a shortstop. He’s going to be whatever we need him to be. And I think he’s going to be a good one.”