Washington Nationals (1-3, 5th NLE) v. Florida Marlins (2-2, 4th NLE)
7:10 pm, Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL
Livan Hernandez (0-1, 2.84) v. Chris Volstad (12-9, 4.58 in 2010)
Weather: Partly sunny, 75 degrees.
The Nats and Marlins face off in the middle game of the three game set, and today's big news was supposed to be Ian Desmond being moved from the leadoff spot to the seventh place in the order, switching with rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa, who would take over the No. 1 spot.
But earlier this afternoon, Manager Jim Riggleman changed his mind again, deciding to keep Desmond, who is 0-for-13 with just one run scored to start the season, in the top spot in the order.
It's a curious decision, the back-and-forth. When the Nationals traded Nyjer Morgan -- and his career .360 OBP against right-handed pitchers -- at the end of spring training, they found themselves without a prototypical high on-base percentage/good speed type of leadoff hitter. Neither Desmond, with his career .303 OBP, nor Espinosa, with his proclivity for striking out, really fits the bill.
When the team inserted Desmond in the leadoff spot after the trade, both Riggleman and GM Mike Rizzo said publicly that they wouldn't ask Desmond to change his approach at the plate just because he was leading off. This was neither realistic nor practical. Desmond is a hacker by nature, and he ranked fourth lowest in the National League last season in pitches per plate appearance (of batters with 400-plus appearances).
Until the Nats can find someone that will take pitches and reach base ahead of Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman they will continue to struggle scoring runs consistently. Desmond will apparently get further opportunity to show he can be that player, but he will have to change his approach to do so.
NATIONALS: Desmond-6, Werth-9, Zimmerman-5, LaRoche-3, Morse-7, Ankiel-8, Espinosa-4, Rodriguez-2, Hernandez-1
MARLINS: Coghlan-8, Infante-4, Ramirez-6, Sanchez-3, Morrison-7, Buck-2, Murphy-5, Bonifacio-9, Volstad-1