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.