MIAMI -- Ian Desmond was out of the Nationals' lineup again Monday, but the All-Star shortstop could be back in action when the team returns home Tuesday against the Mets.
Desmond is resting a sore left oblique he has been dealing with for the last two months. It is the first time in his career Desmond has dealt with an oblique injury, but he said he was feeling much better Monday than he did the previous two days.
"It's day to day," Desmond said. "We're going to see how it feels [Tuesday] and go from there."
Along with resting the oblique, the team has had a masseuse help the All-Star shortstop loosen up the muscles. Desmond has also been prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to help the recovery process. The injury flared up after the All-Star break -- which Desmond used to rest the injury -- and it got to the point that Desmond had to bunt for a base hit Saturday because he told manager Davey Johnson he couldn't swing the bat.
After sitting out Sunday for the first time since April 19, Desmond told Johnson he could play Monday if the team needed him. Johnson, though, opted to err on the side of caution and give another day off to Desmond, who is hitting .407 (25-59) with 16 RBIs and 14 extra-base hits in his last 15 games.
"It's not something I want to take a chance with," Johnson said. "He's too valuable to our ballclub. He could go out there and do something spectacular and hurt himself. Hopefully we'll get by the danger period with another day."
With Desmond once again out of the lineup, Danny Espinosa got the nod at shortstop. While Desmond said he felt he was at the point where he could play Monday, he noted that it could be better to miss a couple of games now than have the injury cause him to miss time later in the year.
"You got to be smart, you know," Desmond said. "This is obviously a team sport, so as bad as I want to play, it's probably not best for the team today. Like I said, [Tuesday] is a new day."