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Desmond ready to return to where it all began

Rockies to open series on Friday against Nationals in Washington
MLB.com @ladsonbill24

Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond already marked Friday on his calendar. He will enter Nationals Park for the first time since Sept. 28, 2015, when he was a member of the Nationals.

Desmond spent seven successful years as the Nats' starting shortstop, winning two division titles and three National League Silver Slugger Awards before becoming a free agent and signing a one-year deal with the Rangers.

Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond already marked Friday on his calendar. He will enter Nationals Park for the first time since Sept. 28, 2015, when he was a member of the Nationals.

Desmond spent seven successful years as the Nats' starting shortstop, winning two division titles and three National League Silver Slugger Awards before becoming a free agent and signing a one-year deal with the Rangers.

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Desmond formed a lot of relationships during his time in Washington. He still keeps in touch with Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and several Minor League coaches in the organization, such as Randy Knorr and Troy Gingrich.

"I built some valuable relationships," Desmond said during his appearance on the Newsmakers podcast. "I get to see some fans who rooted me on for so long. They were in my corner and supported me on and off the field, through ups and downs. They were there for the journey. Overall, I have a lot of good memories in the city, on the field. I'm looking forward to kind of sparking that again."

It seems like yesterday when Desmond first joined the Nationals. In fact, we were laughing about his Spring Training debut against the Orioles at Fort Lauderdale Stadium in 2005.

There was Desmond -- then 19 -- making several acrobatic plays at shortstop against Baltimore. "Whoa!!!" I said to myself after I saw him work his magic with the glove.

It got to the point where Washington general manager Jim Bowden told scouting director Dana Brown that Desmond should have been a first-round pick instead of a third-round pick in the 2004 Draft.

Video: WSH@ATL: Desmond spins and fires to first for the out

As for the media, many of us couldn't believe what we just saw. I was just as guilty as nearly every other reporter who saw Desmond that day, comparing him to Derek Jeter. When we told him about the comparison, Desmond couldn't believe what he heard. He said he wanted to be compared to Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, his hero growing up in Florida.

"I never compared myself to Derek Jeter, who is one hell of a ballplayer," Desmond said recently. "I was supposed to be a defense-first shortstop. It's amazing how those [scouts] got it wrong or right. I've been extremely blessed to do what I love to do for a living and provide for my family."

Desmond never reached the heights of Jeter or Larkin, but his career is nothing to sneeze at. Almost every year, it's a given that Desmond is going to play at least 150 games [although this year will be different because of injuries], club at least 20 homers and drive in 70 or more runs.

Desmond not only worked hard at his craft, but he showed his emotions after playing his last game as a member of the Nationals. The place was Citi Field. He was in tears and he knew his playing days in Washington were over after he had previously turned down a seven-year, $107 million contract extension. Now, Desmond said, the page has been turned. His focus is helping the Rockies reach the postseason for the first time since 2009.

"Since then, I was blessed to be with the Rangers last year. I got to play with two future Hall of Famers in Carlos Beltran and Adrian Beltre," Desmond said. "Then I go to Colorado and we had four All-Stars and I get to play with some good, young, promising [starting] pitchers."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Colorado Rockies, Ian Desmond