All spring, Ian Desmond has made an impressive case for why he should be the Nationals' Opening Day shortstop, and it remains to be seen whether manager Jim Riggleman's comments on Friday afternoon acknowledge Desmond's surge in that race. But it was clear the 24-year-old is as least under serious consideration.
Riggleman called shortstop an "open competition" between Desmond and incumbent Cristian Guzman, who has been limited this spring after returning from shoulder surgery. Guzman has also been away while his wife gave birth to a daughter, and Desmond has made the most of Guzman's absence. He's hitting .387 this spring with a team-high 11 RBI and a 1.086 OPS.
"They're both such good offensive players that we're finagling a way around for both of them to get a lot of playing time," Riggleman said. "At this point, we've got two weeks to go. I don't want to get too ahead of myself and get too excited about two weeks of baseball, but Desmond has played great."
Guzman will start at shortstop tomorrow, and both Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo have said they'd need to see Guzman prove his shoulder has regained strength before declaring him the Opening Day shortstop. Guzman has made all the throws he's been asked to make this spring, but hasn't been tested with a close play or a ball deep in the hole.
"I'd like to see a couple plays that he has to make to his right," Riggleman said. "He hasn't had one ball hit to his right yet that you could make a play on. Everything has been at him or to his left. (To the right is) where you're going to get a better read on where his arm strength is."