The first week of Spring Training is over. It was a short one with the Nationals only playing three games. But a lot of good things came from this week. So let’s take a look at the winners and losers of this past week.
This is a kid who came into Spring Training with a veteran, Christian Guzman, in his way. From the rumors, it looks like Guzman is not moving. Not too the bench or in a trade. His $8 million salary this coming season is going to be hard to move. Desmond is a guy that can hit, run and play a very capable shortstop. Dubbed the shortstop of the future, Desmond is going to need to see steady playing time to keep his skills sharp. So that means starting out the season in Triple-A. However, in his mind he is fighting for a roster spot.
“I’m doing the best I can”, he said. “If they want to take me to Washington, they can take me.”
Desmond has not wasted any time showing the Nats what they have to look forward to in the upcoming years. In his first two Spring Training games, Desmond is 4 for 6 with 1 HR and 6 RBI. Last season, his defense came into question when he had four errors in 17 games at shortstop, and two at second. Thus far, he hasn’t had any errors.
When asked about the possibility of Desmond starting at short, Nats coach Jim Riggleman didn’t want to comment on it but did remind us it is Guzman’s spot to lose. He also reiterated Guzman is coming off shoulder surgery and has yet to play a Spring Training game; which he is scheduled to do so against the Mets on Saturday. Riggleman knows what he has in Desmond saying, “He is a talented, athletic kid and is bringing it early in camp.”
Desmond might not be the opening day starter this season, but he will be next year. And I would not be surprised if we saw him out there regularly after the All-Star break in July.
Also having good Springs so far are Elijah Dukes and Mike Morse, who both picked up two hits against Atlanta on Friday.
I know I know, it is only Spring Training. The guys are trying to locate their pitches, try new pitches and get used to the feel of the game again. But the only reason I am bringing up their pitching now is so you don’t act surprised when it happens this season. However, I do expect the innings of allowing five and six runs will not happen as often. What I would be concerned with his how the coaching staff tends to these guys after they leave the game and throw some in the pen. You have to develop these guys mentally as well as physically.
Now all this talk about pitching may be a bit premature seeing that the ‘guy’ has yet to throw this Spring. And you know whom I am talking about. Stephen Strasburg will make his Spring debut March 9 against the Tigers. Fans and players alike are looking forward to seeing this triple digit fastball he is capable of throwing. The hype around this number one draft pick is he is the ace of the future. Only time will tell, and Riggleman is confident more time in the minors will help develop him.
But don’t worry Nats fans, Strasburg’s counterpart, and the closer of the future Drew Storen will be there with him. Storen made his debut Thursday against the Astros and pitched a near perfect sixth inning. He didn’t allow a hit, struck out one and threw eight of his nine pitches for strikes.
When asked about his performance Storen said, “"I wouldn't say it was easy, but it was quick. I was just trying to throw strikes, really. I felt good. "
The up side to the Nats is their young talent they are developing. The front office has done a great job drafting, and signing, good young players. The future looks bright for the Nats. They have a leader in Ryan Zimmerman, and when you add in these young guys like Strasburg, Storen, Morse, Jordan Zimmermann and catching prospect Derek Norris, this team is going to be good.
First week in and still no wins. That’s expected. The Nats are doing their jobs getting this team ready to compete. This is a different team than last year. But when they start winning and emerging out the NL East basement, don’t be surprised. I already told you they would.
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