Williams: Desmond getting better defensively, doesn’t need days off

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond had a home run early in the Arizona series. On Wednesday, he delivered a clutch two-run single to put the Nationals ahead for good in a 5-1 series-clinching victory over the Diamondbacks. He finished with five RBIs in the three-game set.

Thursday marks a rare day off for Desmond. Despite this week’s recent uptick at the plate, does manager Matt Williams believe Desmond needs a day or two off?

“I want to give him some time, but we have had a lot of off-days,” Williams said to the media prior to Wednesday’s game. “We get another one (today). If you look at it as a whole and you say, OK, you like to give your guys one day off a week as a general plan, we have essentially had that this month. So the need for off-days or spelling guys hasn’t been there.”

Williams said the schedule will help get Desmond some time off and the eventual return of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman could be used as a time to move Danny Espinosa to short and Anthony Rendon to third for a game or two to give Desmond a breather.

“We are going to get to that point, though, pretty soon where we have a number of games without an off-day, so we will we will have to look at that,” Williams said. “We hope at that time, we’ve got guys close to coming back. We can flip-flop and match up at that point. But right now with all the off-days, there has been a lot of them. We have been able to give guys scheduled off-days. It has worked out fine.”

Williams said Desmond is strong, and there are now health issues at this time that would force a day or two off.

“Ian, his legs feel good,” Williams said. “He feels good. There are no complaints. It hasn’t gone the way he wants it to go, but it will come.”

On Tuesday, Desmond did have a throwing error, but Williams believes he is doing a better job defensively recently after starting the season with some mislocated throws from short.

“It has been a little bit better,” Williams said. “It is a little slower, it is little more deliberate certainly catching the ball and throwing the ball across the infield. I think he is fine. (Tuesday) was a ball to his backhand and a jump throw, it sailed on him a little bit. That is going to happen.

“But for the most part the last couple of weeks, he has made the routine play really well. It is all we can ask.”

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