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Matt Williams would like to give Ian Desmond a day off; Nationals need a pitcher Saturday

Ian Desmond. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Ian Desmond prides himself in being ready and able to play every day. It is part of his essence as a baseball player. So when he heard after Sunday’s game that Manager Matt Williams wanted to give him a day off because he felt like he needed it, Desmond approached Williams. It led to a humorous and telling interaction.

“He goes, ‘So I’m getting a day off?’ ” Williams said with a laugh before Monday’s game. “‘ ‘I didn’t say that. I said you need a day.’ He said, ‘I don’t want to talk about it right now.’ So we’ll talk about it at some point.”

The two didn’t talk about the matter on Monday, but Williams still believes the Nationals’ shortstop needs some rest. Desmond, who last sat out on June 5, started his 17th straight game on Monday. He has started all but one of the Nationals’ 75 games. He has played stellar defense of late, but since that off-day he is hitting just .254 (16 for 63) with seven extra-base hits, including three home runs, two walks and 23 strikeouts. 

Williams could find some rest for Desmond later in the week, perhaps during the four-game series in Chicago. The Nationals play a doubleheader on Saturday, the last day of a seven-game road trip.

“He knows I’m thinking about it,” Williams said. “We’ll talk about it.”

Williams has also wanted to give Jayson Werth a day off, but he didn’t do so Monday. Werth is the oldest regular position player on the Nationals, and before the season Williams said he wanted to get the outfielder regular rest during the year. But because of injuries to much of the lineup, Werth has started all but two of the Nationals’ games. His offense has also slumped of late.

“That’s just the way it goes during the course of the season,” Williams said. “He will grind at-bats and if he’s not feeling 100 percent at the plate then he’ll grind at-bats and get walks and provide opportunities for us. When he’s really feeling it, he’ll start driving it again. It’s a question of the way the season goes. Does he need some rest? Yes. Will we be able to give him some? Sure. But he’s been a warrior. He’s playing every day and he’s excited about playing every day.”

In a related matter, the Nationals will need a pitcher for that doubleheader on Saturday. Williams said the Nationals plan to take advantage of the 26th man rule that allows for an extra player for a doubleheader.

Blake Treinen, who has been the Nationals’ go-to fill-in starter this season, is a candidate. Treinen last pitched on Sunday, so his pitching schedule matches up. Gio Gonzalez would start the other game of the doubleheader on regular rest.

“We can bullpen that game if we wanted to with an extra guy, we can have a starter come and join us,” Williams said. “There’s lots of options.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010, wrote about high school sports across the region for two years and has covered the Nationals since the middle of the 2012 season.
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