Desmond discusses his return, Johnson hopes Izturis clears waivers

For the first time in nearly a month, Ian Desmond finds his name back in the Nationals' lineup for tonight's game against the Mets.

The Nats obviously would have preferred Desmond never landed on the DL with a torn left oblique, but given the 19-6 record they put up without him, Desmond joked that he wasn't missed too much.

"They got better (without me)," the shortstop said.

Regardless of how the Nats performed without Desmond in the lineup, they'll welcome their All-Star shortstop back with open arms. He returns less than four weeks after going on the DL, which is more than a week sooner than the Nats originally estimated.

"I just stuck with the routine the trainers told me to do," Desmond said. "I've been feeling good. There's no sense in dragging an extra two weeks out of it. Obviously that might have been the safe bet. But I feel good, so I'm just going to go with it."

Desmond was able to swing pain-free during a simulated game yesterday and threw without discomfort, as well. That was enough for the Nats to decide to activate him, even without Desmond going on a rehab assignment first.

Asked whether he feels 100 percent, Desmond said he wouldn't go that far, but that he feels way better than he did before the All-Star break. He battled through the injury for a while before finally succumbing to the DL, but now finds himself healthier and rested for the playoff run.

"It was definitely the right decision," he said. "I don't know how much more I could've taken of it before. But that's what I thought the first time and (the pain) went away. I feel good that we took the break. I'm excited to get back out there and go play the Mets."

Cesar Izturis was the guy bumped off the 25-man roster to make room for Desmond this afternoon. The veteran infielder was only with the Nats for nine games before being designated for assignment, but he made quite an impression both with his play and his impact on the team off the field.

"Cesar was a great teammate around here," manager Davey Johnson said. "He's a class act. He really played good. He's a good player. When we lost Desi, we would've had to do a lot of things if we'd lost Espinosa that wouldn't have been comfortable. He filled a very valuable role for us."

Izturis will now go through the waiver process. If another team claims him (which Johnson feels will probably happen), he'll join that team's 25-man roster. If not, the Nats would like to bring him back, give him a few days off, send him to Triple-A Syracuse and then have him rejoin the major league team once rosters expand on Sept. 1.

"I told him, 'We'd love to keep you,' " Johnson said.

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