Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond stole two bases Friday and now has a career-high 20 stolen bases in his first 64 games of the season. Last year, he had 17 stolen bases in 154 games.
The Nationals are being more aggressive on the basepaths and taking advantage of Desmond's speed to put pressure on the opposition to not make mistakes.
Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said the team is running more this season, but they have to be careful with Desmond because he is still nursing a sore left quadriceps muscle that has been lingering since the Florida Marlins series in mid-May.
"I don't think he feels 100 percent," Riggleman said. "We tried to back (off) two days in a row for him last week, a Sunday and Monday. Tomorrow I may give him off and Monday is an off day."
That is why Riggleman is even more impressed with Desmond - because the young shortstop is protecting himself while still be aggressive.
"He is amazing," Riggleman said. "He is able to manage his little issue he has going on with his leg and still be aggressive. He scored from second on some singles. He has stolen bases. He has gone first to third. But he is able to do these things without overextending himself. He is on his own."
Riggleman believes Desmond is a good baserunner because he knows when to go and senses when the pitcher might give him a shot at second base.
"He picks good spots to run," Riggleman said. "He is doing it with his aggressiveness and his instincts. He is a fast runner, but he is not blazing speed-fast. The fact that he has as many stolen bases as he has is a testament to his technique and his aggressiveness."
So, expect Desmond to get two days off beginning Sunday so he can return to the lineup Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners.