Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez said after the teams 2-1 win over the Phillies on Monday that he approached shortstop Ian Desmond prior to the game to ask for his help. Gonzalez said he wasnt feeling quite well and could use a boost from his teammates.
I was telling him today, Im going to need you out there, Im a little under the weather. I need you to go out there and keep me lifted right now, Gonzalez said.
And he did that job, he was out there doing his job and putting in runs for us.
Desmond in fact accounted for both Nationals runs, he launched a solo home run in the second inning and poked a RBI single in the fourth. He and Gonzalez played against eachother while in high school in Florida and the Nats pitcher is thankful to now play for the same team.
Ive known Desi for quite a while now, almost ten years now or nine years, and hes always been the same athlete I remember in high school, he said.
He is a competitor, he was a leader when he was in high school and I feel like hes a leader in here too.
Of all the surprises the Nationals have seen this season, a lot of good and some bad with injuries, Desmonds play may be the most positive development. The 26-year-old has been one of the teams most maligned players in recent years with sinking on-base percentages and soaring error totals.
Before the season Desmond looked like the one weak link in the Nats lineup on paper, it was a big question whether he could handle the leadoff position with such a deep lineup behind him. But this year Desmond has found success in all parts of the game and has been one of their most consistent all-around players.
Desmond was switched from leadoff to the fifth spot on Saturday and in the three games since has not slowed down. After Monday he is 5-for-13 with four RBI, a homer, and a run when batting fifth. It represents a different dynamic, clearing the table rather than setting it, but Desmond is happy almost wherever he hits.
I like batting everywhere but eight. I really dont mind hitting anywhere. I am fortunate to have good hitters around me to get good pitches, he said.
Desmond is now tied with Adam LaRoche for the team lead with seven home runs on the season. His seven in 41 games has him on pace to hit 27 homers on the season which would be five more than he hit in his first three MLB seasons combined. It also slots him first in the National League for shortstops and third overall in the majors.
As for why he is hitting with more power this season?
I think daddy strength. They say when you have a kid you get stronger, so thanks Grayson, he said, referring to his young son.
I dont know whats happening, Im blacking out.