Feeling 'great,' Desmond eager to take next step

VIERA, Fla. -- Like the Nationals, Ian Desmond is entering Spring Training this year with a different set of expectations for himself and from others.

The Washington shortstop, who was named to his first All-Star team last year and received the National League Silver Slugger Award, is heading into camp with a clean bill of health and a new outlook.

In 2012, Desmond fell 24 games short of the standard he set in the previous two seasons -- when he played in 154 -- largely because of an oblique injury that sidelined him shortly after the All-Star break.

"I feel great," Desmond said. "I spent a lot of time working on my core and things like that this offseason. I want to play as many games as I possibly can and be on the field to help my teammates throughout the course of the year. Sitting on the bench for that amount of time last year was not fun, but I think it was a little bit of a learning experience and I gave myself something to build on in the offseason."

As for the team, Desmond acknowledged that last year's NL Division Series loss to the Cardinals still stings a bit, but he believes that the Nats can build off it as a learning experience.

"Just like going 0-for-10, 0-for-20, whatever, you always learn something," he said. "I think we got a little bit of schooling in what it's like to be in the postseason. It is a little different ballgame, heart beating a little more, things like that. It was fun. Losing sucks, but getting that education and that little bit more knowledge of what it's going to be in the future was good."

On a personal level, Desmond said his focus is not so much on individual goals, but what his contribution can bring to the team on a larger scale.

"I think at the end of the year, the numbers will be what they'll be," he said. "The ultimate goal now and in the future for this organization is to win a World Series. That's my goal coming in, and I think that's the rest of the guys' [goals] as well."