PHOENIX -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond passed another milestone Saturday in his comeback from a torn left oblique, hitting 30 flips in the cage at Chase Field, his first live swings since going on the disabled list July 22. "I'm starting to get closer and closer," Desmond said. Aside from a few swings with a fungo bat Friday, he hadn't swung a bat since he was injured. Washington is still going to be cautious with Desmond, waiting until he's fully healthy before taking him off the DL, but Nationals manager Davey Johnson could hardly hide his eagerness to get the shortstop back in the lineup.
"When that man's ready, I want him back," Johnson said. "Arguably, he's been the most dynamic player this year." Johnson added that Desmond would likely either lead off, or assume the sixth spot in the order, providing the Nats with another run producer behind Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche. There's no guarantee when that will happen, as Desmond said he hasn't been given a timetable. "We're just kind of taking it day by day," he added. "They have a plan laid out, but they haven't given it to me. From here, every day is probably just a little bit more, I'd imagine." Desmond has been making steady progress, as he began fielding ground balls and throwing Monday in Houston. But the recovery time from an oblique injury is relatively unfamiliar, with Johnson likening it to Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp's comeback from a hamstring injury earlier this year. If Desmond comes back too soon, the Nationals would potentially risk losing him for the rest of the season. "I think if you know me, it's always been hard not to push it. But I've got to be smart, obviously, and be careful," Desmond said. "But at the same time, I've got to go out there and play. You can't go out there and try to guard against injury. So depending on how it feels, we'll see."