Ian Desmond was a solid shortstop for the Nationals from 2009-15, and it's safe to say that he was integral part of the team. He helped Washington win two National League division titles in 2012 and '14 while capturing three Silver Slugger awards.
Now, Desmond is an MVP candidate with the Rangers, while playing a Gold Glove center field. He leads the team in RBIs and was hitting a team-leading .301 entering Wednesday's action against the Orioles.
MLB.com caught up with Desmond and talked to him about his time in with the Rangers.
MLB.com: What makes the Rangers the right fit for you?
Desmond: They have a ton of fun over here. They work really hard. It's keeps me a little bit loose. I'm very intense as a player. They embrace that. At the same time, I can crack a smile in the middle of the game. It's been great.
MLB.com: What did the Rangers say to you to make you feel comfortable?
Desmond: When I was a free agent, they said, 'We love you. We don't have a spot for you. We want to call in and let you know that if something happens, we are interested.' They kept knocking on the door. They kept saying, 'We are here.' Then [Josh]Hamilton was hurt. The Rangers said, 'If you guys are still around, this is what we are looking to do. This is what we are interested in.' When I arrived in Spring Training, we were all on the same page. It has been great ever since.
MLB.com: What adjustments did you have to make after deciding to play in the American League?
Desmond: It has been a smooth transition. There are some pitchers I don't know. The communication in our dugout is so great. Everyone is talking about the pitcher. Everyone talks about what the pitcher throws. After everyone comes in from the dugout, everyone is sharing information. It shortened that gap for me. They have a ton of video here. They really keep you informed.
MLB.com: So, you don't see a difference between the two leagues?
Desmond: No. I think pitchers try to get you out, no matter what. There is so much scouting in this game. If there is a weakness, they try to identify it and take advantage of it. The pitchers don't say, this is the American League. I have to pitch this way. This is the National League. I have to pitch this way. They are looking at numbers and want to get people out.
MLB.com: You also had to make a position change. I hear you are playing Gold Glove-caliber center field.
Desmond: It's been a lot of hard work. Jayce Tingler is over here. He is like the outfield/ base running guy. When I arrived in Spring Training, I said want to take a serious run at it. I want to work as hard as I can. I want you to push me and I'll push you. He agreed to it. Even since, we have been working as hard as we can. I try to be smart about maintaining energy while in the heat. Tingler has worked us. I'm grateful about how much time he has put in.
MLB.com: What adjustments did you have to make when it comes to playing the outfield?
Desmond: It was just instincts. Getting that initial read was tough, but through a lot of shagging and a lot of drills, the learning curve was smoother. I was also opened minded by taking tips from other players on this team. I also reached out to outfielders around the league. They offered me tons of advice. I was just opened minded. I'm trying to learn as much as I can.
MLB.com: Which outfielders did you call?
Desmond: I called Rick Ankiel, Mark DeRosa, Jim Edmonds, Denard Span, obviously. I picked his brain early. I watched a lot You Tube clips on Torri Hunter and Mike Cameron, guys I look up to. Andruw Jones was another one. In Spring Training, we had Justin Ruggiano. I picked his brain a ton.
MLB.com: You are having your best year in baseball. How are do you explain it?
Desmond: Perseverance, patience and a lot of hard work. No only hard work in the offseason, it was hard work when I got here. The hitting coaches are here -- Justin Mashore and Anthony Iapoce. They have been a huge help to me. They allowed me to do what I want to do. At the same time, they sharpened my mind. They pushed me in an upward direction. They have done a great job. The last couple of years were tough. I knew how I hit, I knew the swing. It was good enough. The swing showed spurts, but now the feeling is good.
MLB.com: The Rangers are good enough to win the World Series. How do you feel about that?
Desmond: We feel great here. We have the mind-set of win today and worry about tomorrow the next day. We understand we have a good squad on paper, we have a good chemistry in the clubhouse, but we have to win today. That's what we focus on.
MLB.com: What is your future with the Rangers? Do you want to stay past 2016?
Desmond: I'm not sure. I think, right now, we are taking it day by day. We are having a great time. My family loves Texas, we are having a great time in Texas. The organization has been nothing but great to me. We will play this out and see where we end up [in free agency].
MLB.com: Have you been keeping up with the Nationals?
Desmond: I left there and I kind of made a decision to cut the cord a little bit. I focus my attention the Rangers. I'll shoot Jayson [Werth], Bryce [Harper] or Zim [Ryan Zimmerman] or [Anthony] Rendon a text here and there. I still love a lot of people in the Nationals organization, certainly a lot of fans that I miss -- people around the city. I try to stay in contact as much as I can, but I'm focusing on the Rangers 100 percent.
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.