Ian Desmond had no explanation. Before last week, he had never hit an opposite-field home run in his major league career and, as far as he could recall, he had only hit one in five minor league seasons. Then he hit one June 28 in Colorado. Last night, seven days later, he blasted another homer to right field off Matt Cain.
“I don’t know,” Desmond said. “I wish I did know. I’d do it more often.”
The Nationals believe Desmond can do it more often. At 26, his power has blossomed this year – he has 15 home runs, which puts him on pace for 30. As the rest of his power stroke has come, opposite field homers could become more a part of Desmond’s game.
“You watch him during batting practice,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “You watch what he can do, it’s unbelievable the way he can drive the ball. He just hit an oppo home run the other day. He said, ‘I think that’s the first opposite-field home run I’ve ever hit in pro ball.’ I said, ‘With that swing, you ought to hit half your home runs the other way.’ He’s got some unbelievable raw pop.”
When Davey Johnson took over last season, he immediately started saying Desmond too often tried to hit singles to the opposite field rather than using his power. He wanted Desmond to ditch his inside-out approach.
“Before, he was taking balls and trying to guide it to right field,” Johnson said. “Even inside pitches, he was trying to serve it over there. He understands dropping the head on it, with a little something on it, and hitting it hard where it’s pitched. That’s the kind of hitter he is.
“The year I hit 43, I probably hit eight home runs to right field. But I wasn’t turning inside-out on them. Those were balls away that I put the hammer on. But he’s got more power than I had.”
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