Results tagged ‘ Ian Desmond ’

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)

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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!

Highlights from the Nationals comeback win in Arizona

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“What we were (Monday night) is how we’ve been all year. We’re resilient. We keep fighting.” — Kevin Frandsen

“We just don’t stop. There’s no reason to stop, just keeping going. Just because you’re down doesn’t mean the game is over. Just keep going.” — Danny Espinosa

Highlights from a sweep-clinching victory

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by Amanda Comak

“I don’t need to go out there and trick guys, and I don’t need to go out there and be perfect. I’ve just got to attack the strike zone, let my stuff work and get much better results that way.” — Stephen Strasburg after tossing 6.2 innings of one-run ball and striking out 12.

“To see him go out and execute it today, exactly the way he wanted to change and what he was going to mess with, was pretty good to see. That’s maturity. Everyone forgets how young he is. He’s going to keep on getting better and better, and today was proof of that.” — Ian Desmond on Stephen Strasburg

“This is the type of ball that we can play. You’ve got to keep tacking on runs late. These teams in our division, they can hit. So they’re going to be doing the same. But I think night in, night out if we come in here looking to outslug the other team, we’re going to be in good shape.” — Jayson Werth after the Nationals hit their second late-inning grand slam in as many games.

“We were already winning. ‘Come through’ is what Aaron Barrett did.” — Ian Desmond, when asked how he felt to ‘come through’ for the team with his grand slam that blew open a close game, referencing Aaron Barrett striking out Giancarlo Stanton to keep it a one-run game.

“The next one better be in the dirt.” — Catcher Sandy Leon to Aaron Barrett after Giancarlo Stanton crushed a slider foul. Stanton struck out on the next pitch.

Matt Williams discusses replay that overturned Ian Desmond’s home run

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by Amanda Comak

The roars from the sold-out crowd at Nationals Park on Friday afternoon began the moment shortstop Ian Desmond connected with David Hale‘s first-pitch curveball to open the bottom of the fifth inning.

They only increased as Desmond motored toward second base. And as Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton threw his hands up in the left field corner, the cheers reached a crescendo. Desmond crossed home plate.

The Nationals had tied the game on an inside-the-park home run by their two-time Louisville Silver Slugger shortstop.

At least, that’s what the implication was when none of the umpires on the field signaled that the play was dead, and Upton proceeded to retrieve the ball from underneath the padding in the left field wall and throw it back to the infield.

But Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez challenged the play. The instant replay crews in New York overturned the call, citing rule 7.05(f) and ruling that the ball was lodged in the padding of the wall. Desmond was awarded second base, and the Nationals’ first run was taken off the board.

Here’s what Nationals Manager Matt Williams had to say about the play after the game, which ended as a 2-1 Braves victory.

“(The umpires) told me that from replay, the ball was lodged between the pad and the dirt. I question that because when (Upton) had to, he reached down and threw it in. That was my question. He threw up his hands. Generally that is an indication that the ball was lodged, but when there was no signal from the umpire, throwing his hands up saying it was a double or lodged, Justin reached down, picked it up and threw it in.

“By that time, Ian had scored. They reviewed it and determined that it was lodged under the fence.”

“One of the reasons we have replay is to make sure we get calls right,” Williams continued. “I have question with that one though because of what happened after the fact — the fact that when (Upton) had to, he reached down and threw it in.

“(The umpire didn’t signal) so, for me, in the heat of the moment and with my naked eye, tells me that he didn’t think it was lodged. But it is a reviewable call and a reviewable play, so they did and determined that it was a double and the ball was lodged underneath the pad.”

Opening Day highlights

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by Amanda Comak

NEW YORK — Early Monday morning, Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams shrugged his shoulders and issued a platitude about his nervous energy. “Opening Day,” Williams said a few hours before his first game as a Major League manager. “If you can’t get excited about Opening Day, something’s wrong.”

But almost as soon as the game began, excitement likely gave way to anxiety and stress. The Nationals’ first game of the season contained enough drama to fill a week’s worth of games, and while the victory — a 9-7 win in 10 innings over the New York Mets — was sweet, the prospect of at least 161 more ahead was perhaps the day’s most intriguing thought.

Through photos and videos, here are some of the highlights from a beautiful first day of the season:

Adam LaRoche gets the Nationals on the board with this lofty two-run home run.

Anthony Rendon’s first big hit of the day was this RBI-double.

Denard Span was in the thick of things all day, including on this game-tying double.

Anthony Rendon then gave the Nationals their 10th-inning cushion with this big three-run shot.

Here’s how the first Curly W of the season went into the books.

Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 in six innings of work. 

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