LaRoche on Nats’ defensive struggles: “Very surprising”

The Cardinals are back in D.C. for the first time since they rolled out of here with a dramatic series win over the Nationals in the National League Division Series last October, and while Nats players have put that loss behind them and know this is a new season, they admit it’d be nice to get a little payback over the next three days.

“Are we going to make it a bigger deal than what it is? No,” Danny Espinosa said. “Would it be nice to beat them? Yeah.”

Said Adam LaRoche: “I don’t know that it’s a grudge thing, but some redemption would be nice.”

The Nats will get their first shot at some redemption starting tonight when Dan Haren opposes Shelby Miller. One way the Nats can give themselves a shot at a couple wins in this series would be to step up their defensive game.

As I mentioned this morning, the Nats have made 18 errors in 18 games so far this season, and they possess the worst fielding percentage in the majors. This from a team that was expected to be one of the top defensive squads in the majors, especially in the infield.

“All I can say is: Very surprising, but nothing to worry about at this point,” LaRoche said. “If we lead the league in errors a month from now, I’ll be very shocked and that may be a time to try and put a finger on it. I don’t want to act like it’s early and we’re three games in. We’ve played 15, 20 games and a lot of it has been unacceptable baseball. And guys know that. We don’t need to go point fingers in here. We know who we are. We know we’ve had chances to get the job done and we didn’t do it.

“I think the problem with a lot of these errors is they’ve ended up being big errors at the end of the game. When we make an error and they score two or three runs, it gets magnified. But still, way too many. For the team we’ve got, we’ve got a chance to have five or six Gold Glovers. Pretty surprising for all of us.”

Ian Desmond made just 15 errors all of last season, proving to those who had doubted his defensive skills earlier in his career that he could play an effective shortstop. This season, however, Desmond’s errors have piled up quickly. He already has seven, but is keeping a positive outlook.

“As long as my name’s in the lineup, I’m going to keep going out there and trying to get better and better every day,” Desmond said. “You just keep on playing. What am I gonna do? Tell Davey (Johnson) I don’t wanna play anymore? You’ve got to keep on going out there and eventually it’s gonna get better. In the meantime, you’ve got to grind through it.”

Desmond made 34 errors in his first full big league season, but has seen that total drop in each successive season. He made 23 errors in 2011 and then the 15 last year, when he was a finalist for a Gold Glove and some started mentioning him among the top all-around shortstops in baseball. But the 27-year-old isn’t looking back on his strong 2012 campaign at this point, saying that each season stands on its own.

“I could rest my hat on what I did last year, but that’s not the case,” Desmond said. “Every year is a new year. You’ve got to keep working to get better. It’s baseball. Sometimes you make errors. That’s why they invented the name ‘error.’ Someone made one at some point. So it is what it is. I’ve got a few more than I would like right now, but it’s a long year.”

Desmond said there isn’t one specific factor that has led to the high error total, just that he isn’t really feeling it and has been inaccurate with his throws. Johnson agreed, saying he hasn’t seen any consistent flaws in Desmond’s mechanics or footwork.

“Sometimes when it rains, it pours,” Johnson said. “I don’t put much stock in it. It’s just part of baseball. He may go 60 games without making an error. That’s the nature of this beast. ...

“It’s early. Errors are part of the game. Like I said, I saw Brooks Robinson make three in one game. Errors can happen at any time. (Desmond) gets to a lot of balls. He’s very aggressive. That chance he had the other day, he had kind of a little short-hop on a fast runner. He’s going to throw him out if he fields it cleanly. But I’m not worried about it at all.”

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