Desmond finds that Johnson's lessons pay off

Desmond finds that Johnson's lessons pay off

NEW YORK -- With the help of manager Davey Johnson, shortstop Ian Desmond has found his stroke at the plate. Entering Wednesday's action against the Mets, Desmond was hitting .279 with a .330 on-base percentage since the All-Star break.

Among other things, Johnson told Desmond to stop taking every pitch to right field.

"He was trying to shoot the ball [to right field] too much," Johnson said. "He has a lot of power. I want him thinking more about hitting the ball where it's pitched -- get doubles, get out in front a little bit and drive it. He has been doing that.

"Ian Desmond is his own best coach. Sometimes he can get a little off track. At times he has tried to do a little too much. When he stays within himself, he is outstanding."

Johnson went so far as to say that based on Desmond's success in the second half, he could see Desmond as his leadoff hitter next year.

"I like him leading off," Johnson said. "I know he feels real comfortable about it. I remember when I had that conversation with him. His on-base percentage was terrible, but he was trying to do too much. He was expanding the zone. But I also wanted to know what he thought. He said, 'I think I could be a great leadoff hitter.' So I said, 'If you think that, show me.'

"I put him in the leadoff spot, and he showed me that he can be more patient and be the kind of hitter [I expect him to be]. ... In the last month, he has shown the real Ian Desmond."