Ian Desmond planned to test his strained oblique by taking about 20 swings in the batting cage, the most significant step since he landed on the disabled list July 22. Desmond also took groundballs during Nationals batting practice and made full throws from shortstop to first base.

(Patrick McDermott/GETTY IMAGES)

The Nationals planned for Desmond to miss five weeks with the touchy injury, which would allow for him to return in late August or early September. Given the Nationals’ roster constraints, it may make sense for them simply to wait until rosters expand. But Manager Davey Johnson said he’ll welcome Desmond back as soon he’s ready.

“When that man is ready, I want him back,” Johnson said. “Arguably, he’s been the most dynamic player this year out of all of them. He’s done things we all knew he was capable of, and gone even farther than that.”

Desmond, named to his first all-star team this year, is hitting .286/.322/.503 with 17 homers in 89 games. Still, the Nationals will exercise caution. Desmond already tried to play through the injury, and he ended up in his current predicament.

When Johnson spoke with team doctor Wiemi Douoguih about Desmond, Douoguih compared Desmond’s recovery from the oblique strain to the process Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp went through with his hamstring earlier this year. Kemp spent just a couple weeks on the disabled list, then came back and had to miss more than a month after re-injuring the muscle.

“Wiemi said he wanted to be ultra-cautious on it so there was no symptoms of it at all,” Johnson said. “I like our medical staff a lot so whenever he gives him the green light, we’ll take the wraps off him.”