Nationals manager Davey Johnson pinch hit for shortstop Ian Desmond in the ninth inning of Friday night's 2-1 victory in the home series opener versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Johnson said he told Desmond before the switch that he expected his young infielder "to get hot so this doesn't happen again."
Pinch hitter Matt Stairs smacked an RBI single off the right field wall to plate the game winner.
Saturday, Johnson said he believes Desmond has all the tools to be a great player on this team and can excel in this league. Desmond just needs to make a few offensive adjustments that helped him become a better defensive player.
"I love Ian," Johnson said. "I think one of the leaders on the ball club at a very young age. He thinks he is kind of overly aggressive at the home plate. He is kind of like when he broke into the league last year, he was overly aggressive in the field and now he has got real patient and very smart in the field. I would like to see him carry that to home plate."
Johnson wants to work with Desmond back in the indoor batting cage and talk to him. "I want to show him I have all the confidence in the world in him," Johnson said.
Johnson said he sees Desmond and Jayson Werth putting a lot of pressure on themselves to deliver when at the plate, and that is causing them to have some rough at-bats.
"(They) are the future of this ball club," Johnson said. "A lot of my conversations with them is how to relax and don't put too much weight on your shoulders. Both of them are kind of doing that, and they have been doing that from day one."
"I want them to realize that (it takes) 25 guys to win pennants, not one or two. They need to relax. Once they do that and they come up there to home plate relaxed and look for a pitch they can drive instead of trying to think they got to hit every pitch thrown up there or get the perfect pitch to hit. When they finally get on the same page, I am not worried about it, they will both be fine."
Desmond thinks the mind set he had in 2009 at the plate is where he would like to be right now. He wants to be aggressive, but he doesn't want to try to force something to happen.
"I just need to go out there and let it go," Desmond said. "Same thing I did with my defense this year. I stopped worrying about everything, I stopped trying to be perfect. I just (need to) play the game and whatever happens, happens. That is my approach from now on offensively, just let it go. Just be free and easy up there."