Johnson: Desmond in leadoff a “work in progress”

Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson believes Ian Desmond in the leadoff spot is a work in progress as they continue to search for the answer to the biggest question mark in the batting order for 2011.

Recently, Desmond has hit leadoff the last two games against the Reds and again Friday versus the Phillies. He is 0-for-6 in those two games, the first time he has hit leadoff since a stretch from March 31 to April 14.

On Thursday, Desmond induced a walk and laid down a nice 3-4 sacrifice to advance Laynce Nix into scoring position, but he also struck out and popped out to shortstop.

It has been a struggle for Desmond leading off in 13 games this season, batting .161 with on on-base percentage of just .203 in 60 plate appearances.

“He is still a young player,” Johnson said. “He expands the zone a little bit. He tries to do too much. We are looking for guys to get on base. That is something we are going to be looking at the rest of this year and also into the off season.”

Johnson said Desmond likes to be at the top of the lineup and believes he can make something happen, but they want him to pick his spots to be aggressive.

“Talking to him I know he feels he belongs there,” Johnson said. “That is where he wants to be. He feels free to bunt and he can run more. He had a pretty good first year. His on-base percentage wasn’t that great because he was very aggressive with the bat.”

“He has the capability to be a pretty good on base guy. I told him personally that I thought he could hit one, two or three in the lineup when he gets it all together.”

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