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Desmond will be starting shortstop

Mar 28, 2010, 2:03 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Rookie Ian Desmond beat out veteran Cristian Guzman for the regular job at shortstop.

[UPDATED AT 12:15 P.M.]

VIERA, Fla. — Rookie Ian Desmond will open the season as the Nationals' starting shortstop, though veteran Cristian Guzman will remain on the roster and get regular at-bats at both shortstop and second base.

Manager Jim Riggleman said he came to the decision in the last few days and informed Guzman this morning. Guzman, who is making $8 million this season and has never played anything other than shortstop in the major leagues, accepted the decision and immediately began taking grounders at second base during morning workouts.

Riggleman said Desmond, 24, won the job with his stellar spring (he enters today's game batting .278 with seven extra-base hits and a team-high 12 RBI) combined with his strong performance last September (in 21 games, he hit .280 with 13 extra-base hits and 12 RBI). The club's long-term fortunes played a key role in the decision.

"This is one of those moves we can make that will help the club this year, and in the future," Riggleman said. "Pretty much, what we try to do is help the club now. But if you can help it now and in the future,Read more »

  1. Brian - Mar 28, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    Great news!I wonder how long a leash Desmond will have as the starter.

  2. Positively Half St. - Mar 28, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    It should be pretty long. This is a gutsy move, one made for winning, and not for money. We should give the FO some credit for that.

  3. sjm105 - Mar 28, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    I agree, FO is in a position to easily get slammed on this and other sites, and they made a bold move here. You have to hope that Riggleman can keep Guzman positive. I wonder if he can also workout at 3rd base as well. He did play a few innings in the All-Star game two years ago. Seems like people forget he was our representative and just can't wait to get rid of his $8 million dollars.. I have never heard him complain and he seems to be a good clubhouse guy.

  4. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Somehow, I don't think this arrangement will work. Give the job to Desmond and send Guzman to the DL (or packing) or give the job to Guzman and send Desmond to Syracuse. Having Guzman pouting on the bench and looking over Desmond's shoulder isn't going to work for any of the three players involved in this bizarre setup.

  5. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    What about Guzman as a back up first baseman as well? He has a good glove still, he just does not have the range to use it anymore.

  6. B.R. - Mar 28, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    Desmond's leash may not be that long. Over the last week or so of spring training, his batting average has dropped about 60 points – and, of course, last September his .280 average was the product of a week of batting .588 followed by three weeks with a batting average of .114.

  7. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    Hmmm…good news!? 300+ ABs for three guys deserving of 600 ABs, not sure this is the solution we were all looking for! I feel bad for all of them. Also this notion of changing the batting order every day is ridiculous you need to be able to pencil in most guys in the same spot everyday.

  8. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    Agree this is a gutsy, smart move.

  9. raymitten - Mar 28, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    I am impressed with Jim Riggleman and Mike Rizzo. They don't always tell the press what they are doing but they have a plan and are quietly going about executing it. My guess is that Guzman and Willie Harris will probably be packaged for a right fielder, even if it means the Nats eat a lot of the Guzman money.

  10. Wily Mo Peterson - Mar 28, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    Love the move. What does this mean for the reserve middle infield spot? And was the favorite for that spot before this decision, Bruntlet or Gonzalez? Do either have any options left?

  11. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 28, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    Wily Mo Peterson: (Love the name, by the way). It's down to either Bruntlett or Gonzalez for that spot. Gonzalez does have options. Bruntlett also is here on a minor-league contract so he could just open the season at Syracuse. Going to be a tough call between the two. Bruntlett has more versatility because he can play the outfield. Gonzalez has had a much better spring at the plate.

  12. Taino in DC - Mar 28, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    No 10 year veteran coming out of surgery should lose the job to a rookie over 20 spring games. Why the rush to play the rookie? he is only 24 , now we got a 8 millions sitting in the bench with no place to play

  13. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    My concern is how much does all this platooning in both the infield and the outfield disrupt the defense? I don't see how it can operate smoothly with all the pieces moving in and out. I think we are going to see a continuation of the Alphonse and Gastogne routine we have marveled at over the past couple of years.

  14. Barney - Mar 28, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    $8 million sitting on the bench is just a measure of a poor accounting decision made some years ago and shouldn't (but often does) affect the current decision to field a team now and into the future. If Desmond's hitting is poor for a couple of weeks I hope they stick with him and let him come back to form.

  15. Sasskuash - Mar 28, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    Taino- In my mind, Guzman did not lose his starting role over 20 ST games. He lost it over the second half of last season, while Desmond demonstrated last September he can perform well at the MLB level, and showed this spring that he can keep it up. Also, if his surgery is the issue, he shouldn't be playing hurt. He should start on the DL and get some rehab time before he comes up to the big club. If he's healed from surgery, he needs to prove it on the field. Also, even though Guzman is being paid $8 mill, he is not worth $8 mill. That's a bad contract given out by a bad GM who no longer runs the team. I'm happy the team is playing the player that gives us the best chance to win (in my opinion) and not the one who simply makes the most money.

  16. greg - Mar 28, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    yup, i'm in total agreement that the $8m is a sunk cost and shouldn't be a deciding factor, especially in the last season of that contract. i also don't buy that he's 100% healthy if he can't make the throw from the hole at SS.

  17. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    Let Guzman play SS versus tough right-handers, 2B versus all left-handers and when shift AK to 1B at end of game when leading.

  18. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2010 at 10:07 PM

    "My guess is that Guzman and Willie Harris will probably be packaged for a right fielder"That will only happen when Jim Bowden gets another GM job. If you are a player and are useless to the Nationals, the worst team in the league, I think it is safe to say you are not wanted. For example, Elijah Dukes.And how is this a "gutsy" move? It seems like everyone all spring has been saying it is the rational one. But I guess calling the rational, gutsy, is more of a commentary on the Gnats front office.Guzman has no future with the team and isn't very good. There was no reason to start him over a guy with potential.

  19. Steve M. - Mar 28, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    Mark Zuckerman said… Wily Mo Peterson: (Love the name, by the way). It's down to either Bruntlett or Gonzalez for that spot.Mark – Guzy played 3rd in the All Star game 2 years ago so he can back up Zim and can back up SS and 2nd. Willie Harris and Morse have played 3rd also.Why can't the Nats send both Bruntlett and Gonzalez down and keep both Bernadina and Tavares (and of course Morse).Willingham and Dunn can both be replaced late in the game for defense as Morse goes to 1st and Bernadina to LF and Tavares to RF.





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