As Ian Desmond was nearing the end of his stint on the disabled list, he and Nationals Manager Davey Johnson and agreed that the shortstop didn’t need any minor league rehab games to be ready to jump back into the lineup. They both thought facing minor league pitchers throwing their hardest with weaker command wouldn’t do him any good. After a few games in the majors, any missing timing would return.
In three games since being reinstated from the disabled list on Friday, Desmond is still working on it. He is 0 for 11 with three strikeouts. On Friday, he made contact on a range of pitches — slider, change-up and fastball — but had only three flyouts to show for it.
On Sunday, he missed on some pitches he would normally hit. In his first at-bat, he fouled off a fastball and then barely did the same on the following pitch, a curveball. Then he struck out on a fastball. But none of it concerns Johnson.
“He’s a little aggressive like he was early, starting the year,” he said. “He’s so dang strong he wants to jump on just about anything and he can hit just about any pitch. But he told me after about two at-bats, ‘Okay, the rehab is over, I’m ready.’ ”
Johnson had originally said Desmond was going to sit on Sunday because he wanted to give him a day off to readjust. But Desmond lobbied against it because he felt fine and wanted to face Mets right-hander Jeremy Hefner.
Desmond’s return pushed Steve Lombardozzi, who was enjoying a strong stretch of hitting, to the bench. Johnson will still try to find ways to play Lombardozzi. But for now, Desmond is working out the kinks from missing 25 games.
”His body is so strong I’m not worried about him,” Johnson said.