Rizzo most surprised by slow start on defense

WASHINGTON -- General manager Mike Rizzo said he is not concerned about the slow start the Nationals are off to. The Nationals were 10-11 entering Thursday's series opener against the Reds.

"I'm not concerned about the team that we have. It's constructed the way we wanted it to be constructed," Rizzo said. "We have guys who have been through it before. So they know how to weather these storms. They've all had slumps in the past. We've gone 10-11 during stretches a lot of times during the season. This is a little bump, and we have to play a little better."

Rizzo said he is surprised by how the defense is playing. Entering Thursday's action, the Nationals were 30th in the Major Leagues in defense. But he believes it will get better.

"We've come out of the gate slow, defensively," Rizzo said. "That's probably the thing that surprises me the most, but I think it's a short-term effect. We have [a lot of good athletes] that have good defensive histories."

One of the players off to a slow start is shortstop Ian Desmond, who leads the team with seven errors.

"He has made some great plays, he had some tough chances. I think as the weather warms up, he is going to warm up, he is going to play defense like he played last year," Rizzo said.

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.