Desmond returns to Nats starting lineup

Desmond returns to Nats starting lineup

WASHINGTON -- Nationals everyday shortstop Ian Desmond was back in the starting lineup after a five-game hiatus due to a left oblique strain that has been nagging him since before the All-Star break.

After playing every inning since April 19, Desmond first sat out on July 15 in Miami. Friday was his first start since that day -- he was batting sixth, in his regular spot in the lineup -- but he made two plate appearances off the bench in the last three games.

Desmond was selected to his first career All-Star Game this year, but missed it due to the injury. In this breakout season, Desmond entered Friday night leading all Major League shortstops in home runs (17), RBIs (52) and slugging percentage (.513).

"Obviously, when you play this sport, any time you can get rest, you take advantage of it," Desmond said.

It could be an injury that nags Desmond the rest of the season, but manager Davey Johnson hopes that the way he dealt with it leading up to the All-Star break will help him battle through it the rest of the year.

"Now I can tell everybody I rested him, when he plays the last 70-72 games," Johnson joked.