Ian Desmond wanted more from his first game as the starting shortstop with the Nationals. His teammates felt the same way as the Phillies arrived and rolled past the Nats 11-1 on opening day.
The beginning was pretty much all the Nats could have wanted from their first game of 2010 at Nats Park: A sold out crowd, a visit from the Commander in Chief and an early lead.
That positive feeling was dampened when the Phillies took control. As Manager Jim Riggleman said after being asked about how it was to meet the President on opening day and then seeing his team lose big, “that’s like asking Mrs. Lincoln, ‘how was the play?’ “
Desmond felt the same way after the game, disappointed with the outcome. “Was it what I expected? No, absolutely not. We got way more than what we (showed) today. I see a brighter future ahead.”
Desmond went 0-2 with a walk and 2 strikeouts. He also committed his first error on a hard grounder off the bat of Ryan Howard in the opening frame. The Nats were able to get out of the inning on the same play when Adam Dunn gunned down Jimmy Rollins at the plate. He bounced back in the field with one put out and four assists.
Ian wanted to get another chance quickly following his early miscue. “Any time you make an error you want to bounce back and show your pitching staff, ‘hey, I made a mistake, so what.’ Give me another one. Keep them coming.”
And at the plate, despite going K, BB and K versus Roy Halladay, Desmond knows it is all a learning process in his first full big league season.
“I have never seen Halladay before. I am just getting used to every pitcher. That is what being new in the league is about. You have to serve your time. He might beat me up the first time. I might have to face him 50 more times during the season. Hopefully at the end of the year, I am on top.”
The Nats led 1-0 early on this game on an RBI double by Ryan Zimmerman. The rest of the game was all Phillies.
When the Phillies scored 5 in the 4th inning to take early control, the Phillies fans in attendance roared their approval, sounding like they had the majority at Nats Park.
Desmond heard the fans as well: “It is alright. It gives us something to work for. We want Nats Town and Nats Nation to be out (there). I live in Sarasota, Florida, and watched the Tampa Bay Rays stadium fill up with opposing teams’ fans. Now they have their own crowd. That is what we are working for.
Desmond says hearing the other teams fans loud in Nats Park serves as a motivator. “To me personally, it makes me want to go out there play hard and get these people on our side.”
Ian is determined not to let one game define anything this early on in the season.
“I am not discouraged by any means. We lost. One team wins. One team loses. We got 161 games to go. Nothing changes. I still think we are a good ball club. We can compete. Just because we lost one game 11-1, it is just like losing 2-1, it doesn’t really matter.
We strung a couple of hits (together) in that last inning. Guys are still up there battling. No one ever who is wearing the uniform is going up there to the box and say, “Oh, you know, I am out’.”
“We are going to be grinding all the time. That is what it is going to take. We know we don’t have all the chips that the Phillies and Yankees do. We have to play hard all the time. No excuses.”
Desmond will remember the chance to meet President Obama and open the season as the starting shortstop but obviously is looking for a different result in Game 2 on Wednesday:
“This is what I have been dreaming for my whole life. I want to be a big league baseball player. I want to be a starting shortstop for a major league ball club. That is what happened today. I went out there and played and it was exciting but and the same time, I still have to play my same game (no matter what level, minors or majors).”