Johnson says Desmond has tools comparable to those of Reds great
Nats manager Davey Johnson believes his shortstop, Ian Desmond, has talent comparable to that of former Cincinnati Reds great Barry Larkin. Desmond played like it on Saturday. He smashed a home run roughly 15 rows up in the left-field bleachers, hit the game-winning sacrifice fly, and made a brilliant play deep in the hole at short, taking a hit away from Giancarlo Stanton at an opportune time for the Nats with a runner on first and none out in the eighth inning.
“I told him, when you put it all together you can be like Barry Larkin,” Johnson said. “You can steal bases. You can hit 1-2-3 in the lineup. You’re a run producer. You’re an on-base guy.’”
Desmond is off to a strong start, hitting .294, and is leading or tied for the Nats’ lead in runs (10), hits (20), total bases (30), doubles (four), and home runs (two).
Johnson believes Desmond needs to relax and let the game come to him, describing his swing as that of someone “trying to hit it 9,000 miles.”
“He’s just a heck of an athlete,” Johnson said. “I think when he first came in here, he’s been trying to do too much.”
Desmond didn’t want to address the comparison to Larkin, who hit .295 in 19 seasons with 198 home runs and 379 steals. Since his late call-up to the majors in 2009, Desmond, 26, has hit .264 with 24 home runs and 44 steals.
“I just want to be Ian Desmond," he said. "I want to go out and play to my ability."