MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Williams confident Desmond will turn things around

Williams confident Desmond will turn things around

WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is having the worst season of his career, but don't expect manager Matt Williams to change his feelings about his starting shortstop. Desmond is not going to be benched any time soon.

Williams will tell you that Desmond is one of the team's hardest workers. Williams said Desmond has a strong track record, so he shouldn't be benched. After all, Desmond has won three consecutive Silver Slugger Awards. In fact, Williams predicts that Desmond will end up having a respectable season.

"My advice for [Desmond] is to continue to play," Williams said. "... We get to the point where he is not feeling good about his swing or he has some kind of injury, we'd think differently. But he is healthy. He has made fantastic plays at shortstop recently. He is a vital part of our team. So we have confidence in him. I know he has confidence in himself. The track record speaks for itself."

Jayson Werth has played with Desmond since 2011, and the outfielder is not worried about his teammate.

"This guy is a pro," Werth said. "His track record is proven. People can slump and struggle, it doesn't mean that it defines them. Don't worry about it. Watch how he goes about his preparation, his attitude, his demeanor in the clubhouse -- all that is great. We still have a lot of baseball. I think the numbers will be there in the end."

Entering Friday's action against the Orioles, Desmond is hitting .213 with seven home runs, 24 RBIs and 97 strikeouts. It doesn't help that he's struggling with his mechanics at the plate. Desmond has been dropping his back shoulder and flying open with his front shoulder. That's given him problems with breaking balls.

Even worse, Desmond has made 20 errors, which is second in the Major Leagues. One Major League scout believes Desmond is not having a problem making the great plays, but rather his issue is making the routine ones.

"I'm disappointed that he hasn't made the adjustment," the scout said.

Throughout his trials and tribulations this season, Desmond has remained calm. He credits his faith and family -- wife Chelsey and three boys -- for not going into a panic at the plate.

"I believe everything happens for a reason," Desmond said. "I believe there is a process to everything. That takes patience and trust. I believe in myself as a baseball player. Do I want to play better? Of course I want to play better, but for no other reason than to make the team better.

"If I hit .200 and we win a World Series, I promise you, there will be nobody happier than me sitting at home with a ring on my finger. I'm not numbers driven. The only numbers I care about are W's. I want to get as many W's as we can, important W's. But that doesn't mean I don't get frustrated."

For the rest of the season, Desmond vows to get even with opposing pitchers.

"I have a lot of faith in myself. By no means do I think this year is over," Desmond said. "There is still a lot of at-bats and a lot of damage to be done. A lot of pitchers have given me sleepless nights. At some point, the tables are going to turn. I may be giving them a sleepless night."

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