Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was bounding through the clubhouse pregame with a skip in his step and a smile on his face, ready to go for the first game of the series against the San Diego Padres.
That boundless energy and enthusiasm is all a part of the full package you get from Desmond.
It is what the Nationals loved about Desmond last year and in spring training. That energy has played out in his aggressiveness on the field, trying to make every play on defense, when sometimes just holding on to the ball might save a run.
But the energy also shines through with dramatic defensive plays and a spark at the plate.
Desmond makes no excuses for his energy on the field, whatever the result. “You know that is just me, I guess. I hate to say it. I am aggressive. It is really hard for me to say, ‘no, don’t make the play’. I guess that is just in my blood. I have to learn to make better decisions, I guess.
Tuesday, all facets of Desmond’s play were on display in one night of baseball at the Park: The Good, the Bad and the Tremendous.
The Good: Desmond went 2-4 with a single, a home run, run scored and an RBI. His last home run? May 28 against the very same Padres starter, Clayton Richard. That was also the last time the Nats beat the Friars.
The Bad: On defense, his error on a potential double play grounder allowed Chase Headley to score the game tying run in the Padres eighth inning equalizing rally.
Desmond says committing error will never stop him from attempting to get the out the next time an opportunity presents itself. That opportunity arrived in the ninth for Desmond.
“I don’t really worry about the error. I made an aggressive play. I would rather make an aggressive play wrong than make an easy into a tough play.”
“I think of myself as pretty resilient. I really don’t let a whole lot hold me down. I believe in myself. Errors happen, bad things happen to you on a baseball field, especially as a rookie. I am learning the other teams and all the other hitters.”
The Tremendous: In the ninth frame on a double to the left field wall by Scott Hairston, Desmond showed what potential can do for a ball player as his relay from Josh Willingham to catcher Ivan Rodriguez gunned down Jerry Hairston, Jr., at the plate with what would have been the go ahead tally.
“That is something I take pride in. I like going out there and being able to air my arm out and give us a chance get a nice play at home.”
Mike Morse was impressed with the 7-6-2 game saver. “That was huge. That was the play of the game, for sure. Josh (Willingham) got it in real fast. We practice that, getting it into the cut off man. He got it into Desmond. Desmond threw a bullet to Pudge (Rodriguez). You could not ask for a better relay.”
Ryan Zimmerman won it in the bottom of the ninth with his second home run of the game, and says Desmond is not feeling rookie jitters any more.
“I think he is well beyond that now. Once you are here for half a year or three quarters of a year, it doesn’t matter any more, you are feeling comfortable. Desmond is mentally tough enough to deal with these things. That is part of his maturation process and he is going to be okay.”