DALLAS -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said that he is confident that shortstop Ian Desmond can start the 2012 season as the leadoff hitter on Wednesday.
Desmond played in 50 games at the top spot in 2011 and hit .281 with a .318 on-base percentage. However, Rizzo said that the team will continue to look for a leadoff hitter in trade discussions.
"I'm confident Ian can be a good, solid Major League shortstop, and he is going to get the opportunity to lead off. I liked the way he took the role and ran with it," Rizzo said. "I'm confident he is going to take another step in his progression as a real solid Major League player."
Because of Desmond's progress at the leadoff spot, Rizzo doesn't feel there is a rush to acquire a leadoff hitter, which was one of the goals before the Winter Meetings began.
"[Manager] Davey [Johnson] and I both feel comfortable that Ian can hit at the top of the lineup, so we feel good about that," Rizzo said. "Run creation is done a lot of different ways. He may not be the [prototypical] leadoff hitter, but he has the skill set to do so, and I think we can be an effective lineup with him at the top of it."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.