MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Desmond vows to fix issues on defense

Nats shortstop makes two crucial fielding gaffes during loss to Phillies

Desmond vows to fix issues on defense

WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond had a game he would like to forget on defense. He made a crucial error and mishandled a throw by second baseman Dan Uggla in the third inning of a 5-3 loss to the Phillies on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park.

With one out, Aaron Harang hit what looked like a routine ground ball to Desmond, who bobbled the ball but threw to first in time to get Harang, according to first-base umpire Vic Carapazza. But the Phillies thought Harang beat the throw, so they challenged the call, which was overturned.

Odubel Herrera followed and doubled to put runners on second and third. Freddy Galvis then singled to right field to bring Harang home.

Chase Utley was the next hitter, and it looked like he hit a perfect double-play ball to Uggla at second base. Uggla threw to Desmond for the out at second, but Desmond bobbled the ball, which allowed Herrera to score.

"Both times Desmond didn't get a grip on the baseball. It's one of those things," manager Matt Williams said. "He is going to be back out there tomorrow playing short for us and helping us win a game."

Herrera scores on grounder

Desmond made no excuses for the misplays.

"Brutal," Desmond said. "But I've done it before and I'm going to work my way out of it. … If this is the biggest problem in my life, I guess I'm doing all right. At the end of the year, I will look back at this and know that I made my way through it."

Desmond has been able to get over the defensive lapses by having the support of his teammates and the fans. In fact, he said that he felt better after he received a nice ovation during his at-bat in the bottom of the third inning.

"Something happened today that I will never forget," Desmond said. "I came up and I totally would have understood if the fans booed me, but I think it was one of the loudest cheers I've had. That was really cool. I really appreciated that. To know that they are behind me, my teammates are behind me, that means a lot."

Desmond's defense has not affected his offense. In his last five games, Desmond is 11-for-21 [.524] to raise his batting average to .298. Desmond credits Williams for his success at the plate.

"I've been picking his brain, I've been staying on him," Desmond said. "I want to know what he sees. I'm relying on him and want to know what he went through as a hitter. I've been able to draw some stuff from him."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.