Ian Desmond is the longest-tenured member of the Nationals. He was drafted by the Expos in the third round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and has been a steady influence on and off the field since he became a Major Leaguer in 2009.
After a slow start this year, Desmond has been solid at the plate and with the glove. Entering Wednesday's action, Desmond leads the team in home runs (15) and RBIs (53). However, one wonders if he will be a member of the Nationals after the 2015 season, as he will become a free agent. MLB.com caught up with Desmond before Wednesday's game against the Orioles to talk about his season and his future with the Nationals.
MLB.com: What kind of season do you think you are having? You have the home runs and the RBIs, but the batting average is down.
Desmond: I'm not overly satisfied, but it's hard to complain when the team is in first place. As a team, I feel we are in a great position and we are waiting for a lot of guys to get hot. That's a good thing.
MLB.com: I understand during the beginning of the season you caught a bad case of the flu and that was the reason for your slow start. How much did it affect you?
Desmond: I'm not going to make any excuses. There was nothing like that. I've played through numerous colds, injuries and things like that and I've been successful. There are no excuses. I just didn't get off to a good start. It happens. I've never been a tremendous April player. I'm not accepting [that I'm not good during the month]. At the same time, there are no excuses, especially a cold.
MLB.com: How do you think the Nationals are doing this season? You are tied for first place with the Braves. How far do you think this team could go?
Desmond: I think we have the opportunity to go all the way. I don't see why not. We have a great pitching staff. Everyone knows pitching wins championships. Not only are our starters really good, our bullpen is top notch as well. There is depth in the Minor Leagues. That's about the scariest thing. We really have some good arms in Triple-A. They are just waiting.
MLB.com: As you know, the offense must be consistent in order for the Nationals to win. How important is it to get the offense going?
Desmond: Like I said, pitching and defense wins championships. If we can just scratch and claw and push a couple of runs across, that could potentially be enough. There are plenty of teams that do that, that scour enough runs to win the game. They are not relying on an offensive outburst every night. Obviously, it's not ideal, but there are teams that win that way.
MLB.com: How much are you looking forward to the All-Star break?
Desmond: With a few games left, it's kind of hard to look ahead like that. I try to keep my focus on every day. It will be nice to have a few days off to rest the body and refresh the mind, but we have work to do. We are in it. To let your guard down at this time would be foolish.
MLB.com: FOXSports.com reported that the Nationals are looking for a younger shortstop during the offseason. Is everything OK between you and the Nationals? What was your reaction when you saw the report?
Desmond: I'm not going to delve into the whole contract thing. I'm done a pretty good job throughout the years to avoid stuff like that. I'll say that I've been in this organization for a long time. I have more faith in [general manager] Mike Rizzo and the organization than probably anybody. I've seen it from the very beginning to this point and we've made tremendous strides. I have all the faith in the world in Mike Rizzo. He has made a lot of baseball decisions.
Whatever decision he makes, the Nationals will be in good hands. I don't think the fans have anything to worry about, I don't think I have anything to worry about. I know my security doesn't come with any type of contract. I know I will play my game and do my thing no matter what. Where I end up is where I end up. Of course, I love to be a National. By no means, there isn't any ill will with the organization and I.
MLB.com: You are going to be a free agent after the 2015 season. Do you think you will be a member of the Nationals in 2016?
Desmond: I can't picture myself other than this. I can't picture myself in any other uniform, clubhouse and Spring Training complex. I can't see myself with any other coaching staff or anything like that. This is what I know. This is what's on my mind. This is home for me. Until that changes, I can't picture myself in any other place.
MLB.com: Let's talk about Matt Williams. Tell me how is he as a manager?
Desmond: He has been great. He treats each guy differently. He realizes the different personalities and he has managed them very well, which is a great attribute for any manager. He's fresh enough from his playing days to remember what it was like to be a baseball player, what the grind is like. He puts his arms around you. He knows when to kind of jump you a little bit. He communicates really well with his staff. He is very open about the decisions that he is making. He doesn't give you a bad reason to why he is making that decision. That's all you could ask for as a player.