Results tagged ‘ Ian Desmond ’

From the Desk of Mark D. Lerner: Back in the swing of spring

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Good afternoon!

I am writing to you from my office at Space Coast Stadium on another picturesque day in Viera. Sorry, I know you’re all facing some pretty tough weather back in D.C. We just wrapped up Day 4 of our Pitchers and Catchers workouts and the full squad is just about complete. The position players will all report by this evening, get their physicals tomorrow, and on Thursday we’ll get them all out on the field together for the first time.

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Danny Espinosa’s mustache is something.

— Spring Training is one of my favorite times of year. It’s always so great to see everyone after the long winter. I truly enjoy hearing what our players did in the offseason, how their families have grown – some got married, or had children – or any of the interesting things they did in the time they were away. It’s a little like the first day of school. But way more fun.

I ran into Ryan Zimmerman in the hall outside the clubhouse just this morning. He looks great and is truly enjoying preparing to be our first baseman.

It’s also always fun to see who has worked hard all winter to grow their hair out – Anthony Rendon and Ian Desmond are leading this category right now – or who has been experimenting with a new facial hair look. You’ve all seen Danny Espinosa, right? Yosemite Sam, as we call him — just one of the names they’ve come up with in the clubhouse.

— We’ve now seen the pitchers all go through two rounds of bullpen sessions. And all that’s done for me is solidify how excited I am to see these guys compete this season. To stand in the bullpen and watch Max Scherzer throwing next to Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez throwing next to Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen side-by-side with Matt Thornton – I could go on all day. It’s tantalizing to watch, and to think about what is to come.

2015-WNBC-Heath-Bell-03

It was great to see Heath Bell taking a little family time after a workout this weekend. (Photo by Paul Kim)

It’s also been great to see guys like Dan Uggla and Heath Bell in camp. That these players, with such accomplished resumes, are here in our camp as Non-Roster Invites speaks to our depth. Both players have arrived in tremendous shape – Heath Bell told me he’s lost 40 pounds and participated in two triathlons this winter – and I look forward to seeing what they will do during the Grapefruit League season. You never know how much of an impact their veteran presence can have on a club. We’re happy to welcome them to our team.

— I know I’m not the only one enjoying these workouts. It’s been wonderful to see so many of our fans lining the fences and taking the front-row-seat offered to them at Spring Training. The turnout has been fantastic and there really aren’t many better pro sporting experiences. The access for fans during Spring Training

Photo by Donald Miralle

Photo by Donald Miralle

workouts is really unparalleled. There’s no better opportunity to see these guys up-close-and-personal, and no better opportunity to get that autograph you’ve been seeking. Our guys have been signing each day after the workout. Nothing like the smile on a young fan’s face after they’ve received a prized autograph. There’s still plenty of time to plan a quick trip down here!

— Another part of Spring Training I really enjoy is that it’s a great time for me to catch up on all the movies I’ve missed. I enjoyed watching Aaron Barrett and Jerry Blevins battle it out on Twitter over their Oscars predictions earlier this week, and I got a chance to see American Sniper myself last night. Bradley Cooper was tremendous. I highly recommend it.

I also want to give a shoutout to our great staff at our complex here at Space Coast Stadium. They do a tremendous job, and we’re very lucky to have such wonderful people working for us and working to make the experience for everyone here so positive.

— We are thrilled that we’ll be welcoming ESPN’s SportsCenter here on Sunday morning, and really looking forward to them broadcasting LIVE from our camp all day. I know how eager our fans back in D.C. are to see these guys and for us to get back up north, so hopefully this will help make a cold Sunday morning that much warmer! Be sure to tune in!

Photo by Donald Miralle

Photo by Donald Miralle

— I want to personally congratulate our manager, Matt Williams, on having his option picked up for the 2016 season. Matt has done a tremendous job thus far and we are honored to have him guiding our players. The pride he takes in playing the game the right way and in helping our players reach their full potential is outstanding. I am really looking forward to watching him as he continues to lead.

Well, that’s about all for now. Don’t forget that single-game tickets are already on sale. While I’m already looking forward to the Grapefruit League opener on March 5, Opening Day will be here before we know it!

Until next time,
Mark

Daily Wrap: Matt Williams discusses the 8th inning, Ryan Zimmerman speaks & more

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by Kyle Brostowitz

We’re almost there, everyone. Just a few more days. Position players are required to “report” today and they’ll take their physicals tomorrow, prior to the first full-squad workout on Thursday.

We received our first rain shower today, but that didn’t stop the position players who have reported early from getting nearly a full workout in this afternoon.

News of the Day: Nationals Manager Matt Williams discussed in his daily session with the media how things could change in the eighth inning this year with Tyler Clippard now part of the Oakland Athletics. As he explained, in the past the eighth belonged to Clippard because of his overall effectiveness — as well as his ability to get out both right-handed and left-handed batters. His splits were nearly identical.

Moving forward, Williams said the Nationals could potentially look to match up (lefty vs. lefty; righty vs. righty) in the eighth inning more than they had in the past.

“We’ll have to look at it and, at this point, say, ‘OK, well, maybe we should match up a little bit,’” Williams said. “As it was last year, that eighth inning was (Clippard’s)…That may be a match-up situation (this year), depending on the game, depending on the team, depending on volume prior. All of those things come into play. We’ll look at that as we get deeper into spring. We’ll get guys into those situations, where we’re matching up potentially in the eighth inning to get the ball to the ninth inning and close it out hopefully.”

Images of the Day:

 

Social Media of the Day:

#Desi getting that #cagework in today. #Nats #SilverSlugger (Photo via @donaldmiralle)

A photo posted by @nationals on

#Repost from @denardspan
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You already know what time it is…. #blessed

A photo posted by @nationals on

#Max is a man in demand. #Nats #SpringTraining

A photo posted by @nationals on

 

Quote of the Day:

All good things come to an end. I think not too many people get to play as long as I have and be as lucky as I have been so far. I still have a lot of baseball left. It’s kind of just a new chapter I guess…It’s a new challenge. I sort of have to prove myself again, prove I can play over there. In baseball you have to prove you can play every year… That’s the great thing about sports.” – Nationals First Baseman Ryan Zimmerman on making the move full-time across the diamond to first base.

Daily Wrap: Ryan Zimmerman works at first, Ian Desmond arrives & more

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by Amanda Comak

The full squad is almost complete. Position players are required to “report” by tomorrow night and they’ll take their physicals on Wednesday. The first full-squad workout is nearly here!

But first, to today’s Daily Wrap:

News of the Day: Ryan Zimmerman gets his first work of the spring at first base

Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman — and yes it’ll take some time before that’s no longer strange to write — arrived at the team’s Spring Training complex on Monday morning and immediately got to work at his new position. Zimmerman was out on the field at Space Coast Stadium early on Monday working one-on-one with Nationals Manager Matt Williams on the finer points of first base.

“It’s a process,” Williams said Monday afternoon. “It’s a new position… So as part of his initial introduction to it this spring we’re just going over the basics — footwork, positioning, his thoughts on where he would like to play, what he can and can’t do, what he feels comfortable with. That was just the little bit of introduction today. Thatll happen everyday. We did it this morning. Got some personal time in.”

The manager, however, knows what kind of a glove his new first baseman possesses. And he seems to have no doubt the transition will be an easy one for the Gold Glove winner.

“Infield is infield is infield,” Williams said. “It’s the opposite side of the diamond, but he’ll adapt to that quickly. For me the thing that’s going to be something he has to think about is being the cutoff guy, (and) making sure he’s on all of the relay stuff. But we’ll get a chance to go through that in Spring Training — walk through it, go live through it, and game through it. He’ll be fine.”

Images of the Day

 

Social Media of the Day

It's even more fun to watch Max Scherzer work when you S L O W. I T. D O W N. #Nats

A video posted by @nationals on

Doug Fister is ready for his close up! #Nats (Photo credit to @donaldmiralle)

A photo posted by @nationals on

 

Quote of the Day

“I’m going to enjoy this ride… I’m going to enjoy every single day. I’ve got a lot of friends and family in this organization. I’m going to make sure I don’t slight them in any way by throwing in any other distractions. I owe it to everybody here to give my 100 percent concentration, and that’s what I’m going to do. Everything else is not really going to be talked about. It’s time to go.” — Ian Desmond, upon reporting to camp for the start of the final season of his contract. 

Spring Training Preview, Part IV: Infielders

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by Kyle Brostowitz

Entering Spring Training, Washington’s 2015 40-man infield unit is a careful mixture of stability (Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon), transition (Ryan Zimmerman), quality depth (Danny Espinosa, Kevin Frandsen and Tyler Moore) and newcomers (Yunel Escobar and Wilmer Difo). The 2014 unit boasted two Silver Sluggers while leading Major League Baseball with 91 home runs. The combination of power, speed and defensive versatility allows this unit to be one of the most reliable in Major League Baseball.

We’ve already previewed the Nationals’ catchers, relievers and starting pitchers; now, in alphabetical order, let’s review the 2015 infielders.

*Note, 2014 totals reflect only Major League stats.

IAN DESMOND

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals2014 Season Totals: .255/.313/.431, 108 wRC+, 7.1% BB rate, 28.2% K rate, 4.1 fWAR in 648 PA.
2015 Steamer Projection: .258/.313/.416, 104 wRC+, 6.8% BB rate, 24.9% K rate, 2.9 fWAR in 619 PA.

The longest tenured member of the organization, Desmond is the unquestioned leader of this unit. He earned his third consecutive Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award in 2014 and was one of just three big leaguers to earn a Silver Slugger in 2012, 2013 and 2014, joining Andrew McCutchen (NL, outfielder), and Mike Trout (AL, outfielder) on this short list. Since the award’s inception in 1980, Desmond is the first National League shortstop to win back-to-back-to-back honors since Barry Larkin (HOF 2012) won five straight from 1988-1992.

Desmond was one of five “20/20” players in Major League Baseball in 2014 and his 24 home run/24 stolen base effort was his third straight dating to 2012.  He is as dependable as they come, appearing in at least 154 games in four of his five complete big league seasons.

WILMER DIFO

2014 Season Totals: N/A
2015 Steamer Proj.: .219/.252/.300, 53 wRC+, 3.8% BB rate, 14.3% K rate, 0.0 fWAR in 1 PA.

A speedy, switch-hitting middle infielder, Difo is a product of Washington’s revamped scouting efforts in the Dominican Republic. He was signed on June 3, 2010 and progressed steadily through the Nationals’ chain before exploding onto the scene in 2014, earning him recognition and inclusion on Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospect List for the Nationals (No. 7). He was added to Washington’s 40-man roster following the 2014 season.

Difo was named the South Atlantic League’s Most Valuable Player after leading the league with 176 hits while ranking second in total bases (263), second in stolen bases (49), fourth in RBI (90) and fourth in runs scored (91). His 90 RBI were the most among Nationals farmhands, while his .315 average was good for second. He was the recipient of the Bob Boone Award, which is granted annually to the Nationals Minor Leaguer who best demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the “Washington Nationals Way.”

YUNEL ESCOBAR

2014 Season Totals: .258/.324/.340, 95 wRC+, 8.1% BB rate, 11.3% K rate, 0.2 fWAR in 529 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .271/.333/.367, 98 wRC+, 8.1% BB rate, 11.8% K rate, 2.1 fWAR in 522 PA.

Escobar, a slick-fielding middle infielder (2013 AL Gold Glove Finalist) is a veteran of eight Major League seasons. He was acquired from Oakland in exchange for right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard on January 14, 2015. Escobar appeared in 137 games for the Rays in 2014, his fewest since 2011, due to right shoulder soreness that sent him to the 15-Day disabled list (June 30–July 11) and a left-knee sprain in mid-September that ended his season prematurely.

Escobar is expected to bounce back from those injuries and return to form in 2015 to provide stability to the Nationals infield. He will transition to second base while also providing depth at shortstop, when needed. When he takes the field for Washington in 2015, he will become the third Cuban-born player to play in the big leagues for the Nationals, joining pitchers Livan Hernandez and Yunesky Maya.

DANNY ESPINOSA

New York Mets v Washington Nationals2014 Season Totals: .219/.283/.351, 75 wRC+, 4.9% BB rate, 33.5% K rate, 0.6 fWAR in 364 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .218/.278/.348, 74 wRC+, 6.0% BB rate, 30.1% K rate, 0.2 fWAR in 181 PA.

Espinosa bounced back from a wrist injury that plagued his 2013 season. He started off strong in the month of April, hitting .291 (23-for-79) with five doubles, one triple, and three home runs in 25 games. He also hit left-handers hard in 2014, batting .301 (31-for-103) with eight doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI, posting an .859 OPS from the right side of the plate. Espinosa’s versatility and elite defensive ability at shortstop and second base allow him to be used in a variety of roles by manager Matt Williams.

KEVIN FRANDSEN

2014 Season Totals: .259/.299/.309, 72 wRC+, 2.5% BB rate, 11.0% K rate, -0.6 fWAR in 236 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .270/.309/.357, 86 wRC+, 3.6% BB rate, 10.8% K rate, 0.0 fWAR in 173 PA.

Frandsen returns for his second season with the Nationals. He brings a strong bench bat and defensive versatility to Washington’s roster. Frandsen is a career .255 (38-for-149) pinch hitter, and his 25 pinch hits the last two years rank second in MLB behind only Reed Johnson (27).

In his first season in Washington, Frandsen led the Nationals with 11 pinch hits (T-10th in NL) and started 42 games at four positions (6 at 1B, 9 at 2B, 12 at 3B, 15 in LF). He hit .303 (23-for-76) vs. left-handed pitching and .298 (14-for-47) with runners in scoring position.

JEFF KOBERNUS

2014 Season Totals: .000/.250/.000, 4 wRC+, 12.5% BB rate, 12.5% K rate in 8 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .250/.302/.332, 77 wRC+, 6.1% BB rate, 18.3% K rate in 1 PA.

Kobernus began the 2014 season with Triple-A Syracuse, playing in two contests before sustaining a broken left hand suffered when he was hit by a pitch on April 7. He was placed on the 60-Day DL on April 12 and after several rehab assignments, was recalled on June 25 and reported to Triple-A Syracuse, where he would hit .269 with 13 doubles, one triple, two home runs, 22 RBI, 22 walks, 14 stolen bases and 27 runs scored in the final 56 games of the season.

He joined Washington when rosters expanded in September and appeared in four games for the Nationals.

TYLER MOORE

2014 Season Totals: .231/.300/.385, 94 wRC+, 7.0% BB rate, 29.0% K rate, 0.3 fWAR in 100 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .244/.305/.426, 104 wRC+, 7.5% BB rate, 25.2% K rate, 0.2 fWAR in 99 PA.

Moore was set to begin the 2014 season with Triple-A Syracuse, but was recalled to Washington on April 6 when outfielder Scott Hairston was placed on the 15-Day disabled list. Moore enjoyed three stints with the Nationals, appearing in 42 games. While with Syracuse he hit .265 with 21 doubles, 10 home runs, 44 RBI and 45 runs scored in 84 games. It marked the fourth time in the last five seasons Moore hit at least 10 home runs at the Minor League level.

ANTHONY RENDON

San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals2014 Season Totals: .287/.351/.473, 130 wRC+, 8.5% BB rate, 15.2% K rate, 6.6 fWAR in 683 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .279/.350/.454, 125 wRC+, 9.0% BB rate, 15.6% K rate, 5.0 fWAR in 643 PA.

In his first full big league season, Rendon posted MVP-level numbers, finishing fifth in the NL MVP voting en route to his first National League Silver Slugger Award. He ranked fourth in MLB (2nd in NL) in Wins Above Replacement (6.6), according to Fangraphs.com, and his 111 runs paced the National League (3rd in MLB). He also ranked among National League leaders in hits (T-5th, 176), total bases (3rd, 290), doubles (T-4th, 39), extra base hits (T-5th, 66) and times on base (10th, 239).

Although he appeared in 28 games at second base in 2014, Rendon has solidified himself as one of the top third baseman in the game and will man the hot corner for Matt Williams in 2015.

RYAN ZIMMERMAN

2014 Season Totals: .280/.342/.449, 120 wRC+, 9.2% BB rate, 15.4% K rate, 1.2 fWAR in 240 PA.
2015 Steamer Proj.: .275/.344/.449, 122 wRC+, 9.2% BB rate, 18.5% K rate, 3.4 fWAR in 570 PA.

Houston Astros v Washington NationalsZimmerman’s 2014 season was marred by two extensive disabled list stints that limited him to just 61 games. He fractured his right thumb sliding head first back into second base on April 13 at Atlanta. He returned June 3 and, upon his return, selflessly shifted to left field to allow Matt Williams flexibility when filling out the lineup card. He suffered a strained right hamstring on June 23 in Colorado sprinting to first base to beat out a ground ball. He rejoined the Nationals active roster on September 20 and started four games, all in left field. Zimmerman played defensively in left field (30 games), at third base (23) and first base (1). He did not commit an error in left field while connecting on two outfield assists.

Zimmerman will again transition to a new position in 2015, making the full-time move across the diamond to first base. Zimmerman’s elite hands and instincts hope to prove valuable in making the transition as smooth as possible.

Ian Desmond & Anthony Rendon earn NL Silver Slugger honors

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by Amanda Comak

Silver Slugger LogoAn historic season for Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond and a breakout one for infielder Anthony Rendon was validated with notable hardware on Thursday night.

Desmond and Rendon were honored as Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award winners, voted as the best-hitting shortstop and third baseman, respectively, in the National League.

“Our entire organization is exceptionally proud of Ian and Anthony,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo. “These awards confirm what we already knew: that they are two of the best offensive infielders in the game, and we consider them equally talented defensively. After the seasons each of these homegrown players put together, we’re honored that they did it with our uniform on their backs.”

This is the third such honor for Desmond, who notched his third consecutive 20-home run, 20-stolen base campaign this past season, and the first for Rendon, who established himself as one of the best young talents in the game during his sophomore season in the big leagues.

This is just the second time in the Nationals’ short history that they’ve had multiple players earn the National League’s top offensive award in the same season (also 2012).

“I’m extremely humbled and blessed to have won this award for the third straight year,” Desmond said. “It’s a testament to my teammates, who surround me in the lineup, the trainers – Lee Kuntz, Steve Gober and John Hsu – for keeping me on the field, and obviously the coaching staff for bringing out the best in me every day.

“As much of an honor as this is, I still feel like there are a lot of things I can improve on, and will improve on. I’m going to continue to work hard so I can be better next year.”

Leading all NL shortstops with 154 games played, Desmond hit .255 with a .313 on-base percentage and a .430 slugging percentage in 2014. He also led all NL shortstops in home runs (24) and RBI (91), while finishing second in hits (151), runs (73), and placing among the top 10 in doubles (T-4th, 26), triples (10th, 3), and  walks (7th, 46).

As this is the third consecutive season in which Desmond has been named a Silver Slugger Award winner at shortstop — making him the first Nationals player ever to take home three such awards – he now finds himself in elite company. Since the inception of the award in 1980, Desmond is the first National League shortstop to win back-to-back-to-back honors since Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin won five straight from 1988-1992.

Desmond also joins Edgar Renteria and Larkin as the only NL shortstops to win the award at least three times.

Adding 24 stolen bases to his 24 home runs this season, Desmond became just the fourth shortstop in Major League history to notch a 20/20 season at least three times in his career.

“It is that package,” manager Matt Williams said after Desmond hit the milestone. “It’s speed and power… He’s got the ability to do a lot of things. When he puts it together, it’s speed and power, and he’s shown that this year.”

Rendon, who established himself as one of the league’s best infielders in a breakout season, played both second and third base for the Nationals in 2014.

“While I don’t play this game for the individual accolades, I’m incredibly honored to receive this award and to be mentioned in the same breath as these great players — especially my teammate and friend, Ian Desmond,” Rendon said.

“I would like to thank all of the coaches, trainers and teammates who I’ve been with along the way. Without them, I wouldn’t be in a position to accept this.”

Rendon hit .287 with a .351 on-base percentage and a .473 slugging percentage. Leading the National League in runs scored with 111, Rendon clubbed 21 home runs as part of 66 extra-base hits, while walking 58 times and stealing 17 bases.

Exclusively as a third baseman, where he played 134 of his 153 games, Rendon hit .288 with a .353 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage. Nineteen of his 21 home runs came while he was playing the hot corner, as did 53 of his 66 extra-base hits, 72 of his 83 RBI and 89 of his 111 runs scored.

“He’s a very, very impressive player,” Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels told The Washington Post late in the 2014 season. “I put him up with the [Troy] Tulowitzkis and the David Wrights when they first came up, those impact players you don’t normally see at such a young age. You know they’re only going to get better, and you’re like, ‘Great.’ He’s that type of guy — one of those superstars that’s going to be around forever.”

Rendon, who earned himself the nickname ‘Tony Two Bags’ because of his penchant for doubles, finished the year with 16 three-hit games – tied for the third-best mark in the NL with Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey.

According to Fangraphs.com, Rendon’s 6.6 Wins Above Replacement for the 2014 season was tops among all NL infielders, and second only to Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (6.8).

NATIONALS TO WIN LOUISVILLE SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS (2005-2014)

2006  OF Alfonso Soriano
2009  3B Ryan Zimmerman
2010  3B Ryan Zimmerman
2012  SS Ian Desmond, 1B Adam LaRoche, P Stephen Strasburg
2013  SS Ian Desmond
2014  SS Ian Desmond, 3B Anthony Rendon

Nationals players make final day of Summer Academy at YBA a memorable one

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 Washington Nationals

by Kyle Mann

On the final day of its Summer Academy Program, the scholar-athletes at the Washington Nationals’ Youth Baseball Academy had a few special visitors.

Aaron Barrett, Ian Desmond, Kevin Frandsen, Scott Hairston and Adam LaRoche visited the YBA on Friday morning, and though the experience was surely one the nearly-100 scholar-athletes participating would never forget, the Nationals players may have been the ones most impacted.

“It’s been a blast to be here,” LaRoche said of the Academy, a place he referred to as ‘The Disneyland of Baseball.’ “It was two hours of nothing but fun and smiles.”

The schedule for the day included games played simultaneously on the Academy’s three fields, one overseen by Hairston and his two sons, Dallas and Landon, one run by LaRoche and his daughter, Montana, and another by Barrett and Frandsen.

Desmond, who hosts a group of 20 Academy scholar-athletes at Nationals Park every month during the season as part of his Ian’s Academy All-Stars program, is also a Youth Baseball Academy Board Member. Serving in a role best described as roving fun instructor, he rotated between fields, alternating teaching proper footwork around the second base bag and giving one-on-one pep talks to future stars.

“All we can do is try to make an impact,” Desmond said. “It’s good for the kids, the parents, it’s all positive.”

While the constant chants supporting every batter emphasized how much fun this day was for the kids, Summer Academy coach Travaughn Kinney reminded his team about the importance of striving to be your best.

“Focus on having fun, but we love to win,” he told his team as they took the field.

Kinney, a two-sport college athlete from D.C., discussed the importance of baseball for children as part of their development.

“Baseball teaches patience, and kids from (this area) need that,” he said. “Baseball truly requires a team, and that’s my favorite part about the game.”

The Youth Baseball Academy is about a lot more than baseball, and the Summer Academy program is no exception. An integral part of the YBA’s year-round youth development program, the Summer Academy provides a safe, fun, and active learning environment that furthers its mission to use baseball and softball as vehicles to develop literacy and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills. The program also teaches scholar-athletes how to lead healthy lifestyles through fitness, proper nutrition and cooking lessons in a safe, nurturing environment.

The scholar-athletes partaking in the Summer Academy included rising fourth and fifth graders who participated in the Academy’s inaugural After-School Program, and rising third graders who started with the first Summer Academy.

In future years, Academy attendees will matriculate through the eighth grade while a class of rising third graders is added. To supplement learning at the Academy, the scholar-athletes took part in weekly experiential-learning field trips, including to the United States Botanic Gardens, the Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater and the National Zoo.

But playing baseball with their favorite Nationals on the program’s final day may have offered the biggest highlight.

Here’s a photo gallery from the day:

 

Nationals Magazine Preview: Ian Desmond; The People’s Captain

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The following is an excerpt from the June/July issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The June/July issue of Nationals Magazine is on sale now, can be purchased at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park and is also available inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

by Mike Feigen

The most coveted emblem in sports is not a logo on a cap or a dollar sign on a contract. Instead, it is the captain’s ‘C’ on a player’s chest, symbolizing not just their play on the field, court, or ice, but the respect they earn off it. Currently, no baseball players don a ‘C’ on their jerseys — only three are designated as team captains at all — but Ian Desmond, with the encouragement of his most devoted fans, could one day join that exclusive company. 

Mag2_cover_webThe evening of April 17, 2014 proved to be one of the toughest of Ian Desmond’s career. He’d shown up at the ballpark hoping to lead the Nationals to a victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, but instead found himself in front of his locker answering questions after a difficult 8-0 loss. The two-time Silver Slugger Award-winner wasn’t just bothered by the defeat, but by his fielding mishaps — a pair of errors that led to four Cardinals runs.

Always honest and forthright about his performances, good and bad, Desmond made sure he was available to the media late that night.

“As bad as I want to run and hide… (I’ve) got to stand here and answer the questions, and be a man about it,” Desmond told reporters. “This is something I’ve done to myself. I can’t blame anybody else or anything. I’ve been here before — I’ve proved to people I can play, and I’ve proved to myself I can play. I’m going to do it again. The errors in the past have made me who I am today. These are going to make me a better man, too. I’ve just got to keep fighting through it.”

Make me a better man. Those words are seldom heard in a clubhouse, where machismo and defiance usually follow tough defeats. Desmond is an exception to that rule, offering fans and reporters an introspective into his psyche on the bad nights and heaping praise on his teammates on the good ones.

Just a week earlier, Desmond deflected credit after he hit a game-clinching grand slam to give the Nats a 7-1 lead, saying middle reliever Aaron Barrett came through more than he did by getting a key strikeout when the score was still 2-1. It’s just part of who he is.

Desmond’s regard for others extends far beyond the walls of Nationals Park.

He supports as many charitable causes as he can, the vast majority of which are behind the scenes, with no fanfare. He prefers it that way. Causes he has publicly backed include the campaign to end Neurofibromatosis (NF), which generated more than $30,000 in donations during the month of May, and the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy (YBA), which opened in March. (For more details on Desmond’s quest to End NF click here.)

As a 28-year-old professional ballplayer with a wife and two small children, Desmond could not be faulted if he simply opened his checkbook for various causes and left the work of managing them to others. Instead, he voluntarily became the face of the End NF campaign and serves on the Youth Baseball Academy board of directors, going out of his way to provide more than just financial support.

Rarely do athletes take that kind of approach, but Desmond has a deep appreciation for where he came from and what it took to reach this point.

Mag2_300x390To continue reading “The People’s Captain” on Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park, as well as inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

A means to END (NF)

Twitter: @Nationals | Facebook: Nationals | Instagram: @Nationals

by Amanda Comak

It began with a tweet. A simple request: “Pray for me.”

Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was new to Twitter in 2012 when he saw the tweet come across on an account called Unashamed Athletes. He replied. The person on the other end wrote back. A friendship was born.

Desmond didn’t know anything about Ethan Brown the first time he corresponded with the now-22-year-old.

The first time he prayed for him.

300x400_ianHe didn’t know about his quick wit or his personality bursting with life. And he didn’t know about the Neurofibromatosis that was attacking Ethan’s body, causing tumors to grow along his nerves and forcing his body to belie the bubbly young adult inside.

He didn’t know what Neurofibromatosis was to begin with.

May is Neurofibromatosis Awareness month, and in conjunction with that, Desmond set out this season to honor his friend and bring a voice to those largely without one. Neurofibromatosis is not exceedingly rare. It affects one in every 3,000 births. It doesn’t discriminate based on sex, race or nationality.

It is also mostly unknown – to the public and to the scientific community.

“NF, to me, and to a lot of people, is something you’ve never heard of,” Desmond said at the start of the month as he kicked off an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. “I want to get the word out.”

The campaign, the brainchild of Desmond and a group of fan bloggers known as The Nationals Archive, reached its $10,000 goal in the first five days of the month and is closing in on $30,000 as the end of the month nears. But that was always secondary to the real aim of the campaign: spreading the word about NF.

“There needs to be a cure,” Ethan said in a message when asked the one thing he wanted people to know about NF. “I went from walking and running to being in a wheelchair or crawling (in a short amount of time).”

The first time Desmond met Ethan in person was at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Nationals’ shortstop reached out his hand to shake Ethan’s. With a tumor growing on his hand, Ethan recoiled and screamed as if in pain. Desmond froze. Ethan began to laugh.

“That was when I knew, this kid is something special,” Desmond said. “If you could read our conversations you’d have no idea this kid was going through any kind of life struggle.”

Over the winter, Desmond and Ethan agreed to get matching tattoos of a design they came up with together. Ethan already has his: a crest of blue and green puzzle pieces – blue and green for NF colors and puzzle pieces because the condition remains a mystery – and two bats behind it to represent Desmond. Both of their initials are in the crest, and beneath it is a banner: End NF.

“I never thought in a million years I’d be friends with an MLB player,” Ethan said. “He is like a brother to me.”

Desmond has led and participated in plenty of charitable causes in the past. He did most of those quietly, preferring to fly under the radar. But this one was different.

“It’s just the fact that it was (a cause) that needed it,” Desmond said. “It just needs to be spread. I don’t know if it’s that Ethan’s involved and I have a special place in my heart for Ethan, but it’s also that the Children’s Tumor Foundation was the first place to reach out to him, and to be the first (organization) on the scene speaks volumes about them.

“It was an opportunity to help (CTF) out and to help out people who really don’t have a voice, the people who suffer from NF. It is something I want to do for NF. I want people to know what NF is for all of the people suffering from it.”

For more information, visit nationals.com/endNF

A version of this story first appeared in Inside Pitch.

Nationals Game Notes — May 26 vs. Miami Marlins

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Game #51: Washington Nationals (25-25) vs. Miami Marlins (26-25) | 1:35 p.m. | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Ups: RHP Tanner Roark (3-2, 3.42 ERA) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-2, 3.41 ERA)
Washington Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark has faced 224 right-handed hitters in his brief career and allowed just eight extra-base hits, all doubles. In 11 career games (five starts) at Nationals Park, Roark is 5-1 with one hold and a 0.78 ERA.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM, also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: The game will be televised on MASN and WUSA
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

When he hits his next home run, Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond will pass Adam Dunn and assume second place on the Nationals’ all-time home run list. Ryan Zimmerman is the leader:

RK PLAYER (SEASONS IN DC)                         HR AS A NATIONAL
1. Ryan Zimmerman (2005-present) …………………………….. 181
T2. Ian Desmond (2009-present) …………………………………….76
T2. Adam Dunn (2009-10) ……………………………………………….76
4. Michael Morse (2009-12) …………………………………………..67
5. Adam LaRoche (2011-present)……………………………………61

Here are tonight’s game notes, courtesy of the Washington Nationals PR department. Enjoy!

Nationals Game Notes — May 19 vs. Cincinnati Reds

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Game #44: Washington Nationals (23-20) vs. Cincinnati Reds (19-23) | 7:05 p.m. | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Ups: RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-3, 3.48 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Leake (2-3, 3.09 ERA)
Both Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg (No. 1 overall, San Diego State) and Cincinnati Reds’ right-hander Mike Leake (No. 8 overall, Arizona State) were Top 10 picks in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM, also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: The game will be televised on MASN
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

The Washington Nationals have received more home runs from their middle infielders (15) than any other team in the Major Leagues. The Colorado Rockies rank second with 14.

Here’s the breakdown:

Second basemen: 7
Danny Espinosa: 6, Anthony Rendon: 1
Shortstops: 8
Ian Desmond: 7, Zach Walters: 1

Here are tonight’s game notes, courtesy of the Washington Nationals PR department. Enjoy!

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