WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who is in his first full season in the big leagues, is already considered one of the leaders on the team.
When a pitcher is in trouble on the mound, Desmond is the first to go to the mound and say something. He also is not afraid to talk to the media when he sees something wrong at the ballpark. Take Monday: He was upset that the Nationals were blanked by the Phillies, 8-0, and Nationals Park was loaded with Philadelphia fans.
When Desmond was called up last year, he felt he didn't have a right to say anything. However, after getting to know his teammates, Desmond decided to speak up.
"We have been through a lot together," Desmond said. "I just felt, 'Why not?' Why not say something? The team is moving in the right direction at some point. Why not start now? I really don't plan to lose 100 games for the rest of my career."
"I think I've earned a little respect from my teammates and from the coaching staff. If I was hitting .220 with 40 errors and I was a terrible teammate, then I probably wouldn't say anything. After the first time I said something, nobody said anything to me. Nobody had a problem with it."
Manager Jim Riggleman is one person who doesn't have problem with Desmond speaking his mind. The skipper said Desmond earned the right to say something because he plays hard every day. Riggleman went so far to compare Desmond to Troy Tulowitzki when the latter first entered the big leagues.
"Ian is really a sophomore now," Riggleman said. "He has 500 at-bats. His rookie status is over. He has every right to speak up. He plays hard. When you play hard every day, when you play with intensity and passion you can speak up. I love it.
"The thing that I'm pleased with is the guy is a total gamer. Speaking to my good friend, Jim Tracy, and other people in Colorado, this is what they said Tulowitzki was when he walked into the door in Colorado. He became a leader on the ballclub as a young player. Different people lead in different ways."