Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is excited to get started with the 2011 season after a pretty impressive rookie campaign. Desmond was in town last week and sporting the new Nationals uniforms which he says are a perfect fit for the young, up-and-coming franchise.
"I like them," says Desmond. "It is a new look, a new team, hopefully a new attitude next year."
His favorite are the home whites and Desmond says the new uniforms have an "old school" feel to them.
"This gives the team a little bit of an identity, they are not so expansion team-ish. They are trying to get people out here to watch us play. Hopefully, we will be able to put a better product out there on the field this year."
Manager Jim Riggleman says Desmond is a major part of the team's improvement in its defense up the middle, which includes Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, Jesus Flores and Nyjer Morgan. Desmond agrees that the defense could be a strength for the 2011 Nationals.
"We got a pitching staff that is built to get ground balls," says Desmond.
"We have got to play better defense. With a quicker, more agile defense we will be able to cover more ground, and help our young pitchers out and get out of innings quickly.
"We will be able to make plays for their mistakes. That is what it is all about, picking each other up and just really solidifying the defense and the infield, and keeping the ball in our gloves and in play."
Desmond took inspiration watching young pitching and solid defensive teams like the Giants and the Rangers make the world series and feels the Nationals can emulate that formula.
"I think we have great pitching," says Desmond.
"We got to do our job behind them. I see that happening. I can see us growing and being just like the Rangers. We got a young core here. We got fast guys. We have power. We got what we need. We just have to go out and put it all together."
Desmond also feels like the Nationals were better than the 69 wins they put on the board and they have the team to accomplish that in 2011.
"Absolutely, a 10 win (improvement) could have easily been 30 wins," assures Desmond.
"We let a lot of games slip away. Hopefully in 2011 that will not happen. It is all about moving forward. We know what we need to do. It is about making strides."
How important is Adam Dunn to the Nationals? Desmond feels he was big for the team but he knows things can change quickly from season to season in this game.
"He is a good friend of mine," says Desmond.
"He is a good teammate. That is baseball. It is a business and decisions have to be made. I think with him or without him we are definitely going to try to make strides forward in spring training. I think with him we could be great and without him we could be great. Again, it is about moving forward."
Desmond batted .269 in 2010, with 10 homers, 17 stolen bases and 65 RBI. But he would love to cut down on the 34 errors.
"I thought I played well," says Desmond. "I definitely have a lot of areas I would like to improve on. I didn't reach all of my goals. I left a lot of hunger in my stomach for next year."