Desmond may play utility role for Nats

Desmond may play utility role for Nats

With Cristian Guzman remaining at shortstop, it is assumed the Nationals will send shortstop Ian Desmond to Triple-A Syracuse to start the 2010 season.

Not so fast, according to Nationals manager Jim Riggleman.

Washington is thinking about making Desmond an all-purpose utility man -- playing all three outfield positions, shortstop and second base. Riggleman, however, wants to make sure that Guzman is healthy before putting Desmond in a utility role. Guzman is coming off right shoulder surgery and foot problems.

"It will be determined in Spring Training," Riggleman said Saturday. "We have to check out the health of Guzman. ... We anticipate that he will be our shortstop.

"Ian is such a good athlete. It would be fairer to him to try to get him some games in Spring Training -- mix in some games in the outfield, so it's fresher to him. If he were able to make the club and play both infield and outfield, Ian would be a nice weapon to have as a double switch. We also would give [second baseman Adam] Kennedy some days off and Guzman some days off. We would be able to use Ian as a pinch-runner."

When reached by phone, Desmond said he would do anything to help the team win. Last September, for example, he played right field against the Mets. The last time he played the outfield on a regular basis was in high school in Sarasota, Fla.

"I'm ready to go. I worked hard this offseason," Desmond said. "I put in a lot of work. Anything I can do to help the team win -- if that situation comes about -- I will be more than willing to do it."

Entering the offseason, Desmond had hoped to become the starting shortstop, while Guzman was switched to second base, but those plans were changed once the Nationals agreed to terms with Kennedy on Thursday.

Asked for his reaction after he heard about Kennedy, Desmond said, "The team is trying to win. They want to secure the defense. That's the way of doing it. We are a team. Adam is a good addition to the team.

"Hopefully, I can be there also and we can turn things around. If not, I'm going to go down [to the Minor Leagues] and work on everything I have to work out. At some point, they are going to need me. Adam is a good player and we need good players."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.