Desmond fighting to stay at top of lineup

Shortstop Ian Desmond hit second in the lineup again for the Nationals Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals, a spot that he has relished since his first days in D.C.

Desmond went 3-for-5 with a double, a bunt single and a run scored. He recorded all three outs on defense in the eighth and started a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Albert Pujols in the third.

He had a run scored or an RBI in the Nats last at bat for the second straight game, but this night the rally fell short in a 4-2 loss to the Cardinals.

Thursday, Desmond did his damage from the five hole, going 4-for-7 with the game winning RBI.

Friday, he got to bat second in the lineup, the slot that every hitter loves because of the quality of pitches he sees.

“Last year, when I first got called up from the minors, (Jim) Riggleman didn’t play me for the first couple of days. So when my time came, I was hungry to play.

“I sat on the bench and then when I got in I was hitting eighth. The next game, I was hitting eighth (again).

This season, Desmond got a chance to hit in the second hole.

He said Adam Kennedy pulled him aside after the first day and said, ‘now is your opportunity to show them you belong in the two spot. Bunt, get hits, steal bases, do whatever it takes so next year that could be your spot.’

“I want to show them that I can produce at the top of the lineup.”

Desmond said Kennedy was in the same situation when he was a rookie.

Kennedy told him that back then once he went down in the lineup, he never got a chance to go back up.

So his advice to Desmond was to do everything they want you to do to keep that spot.

On Friday, Riggleman put Desmond in the two hole because they were facing the left-hander, but if he could he would keep him in the upper half of the order because of his bat.

“We would like to keep him in the two spot because he is going so well. There is always the temptation to put him in the five spot to protect Dunn. If we gave Zimmerman a day off, for instance, I would have no problem hitting Dessie third. Overall, we would like to leave him in the second spot.”

He seems to love the Cardinals in his first four games against them, going 13-for-20. And the hot streak dates back to August 5, with Desmond hitting .395 (30-for-76) with 4 doubles, 2 homers and 8 RBI. His 35 multi-hit games keeps him ranked second among N.L. rookies.

With that kind of play, Desmond is making Riggleman’s job easier each morning when he decides who bats second in the Nationals lineup.

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