LOS ANGELES -- Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made it known Saturday that he would love to play with his childhood friend, Rays center fielder B.J. Upton. There has been speculation for weeks that the Nationals have been interested in the right-handed-hitting Upton.
Zimmerman has not talked to Upton this season about the possibility of playing close to home, which is in Virginia. During the offseason, however, Upton sometimes told Zimmerman how lucky he is to play close to home.
"It would be different and I think it would be fun, but when it comes down to it, the most important thing is to get guys who can help us win," Zimmerman said. "B.J. is a very talented player. I think a lot of people still think he is going to improve a lot. He has all the tools. He is one of those guys who can run, throw and hit for power. He is a very gifted athlete."
If Upton were to be traded to the Nationals, Zimmerman believes Upton, 26, could help the team in a lot of ways. Zimmerman acknowledged, however, that Upton needed to improve his batting average. Entering Saturday's action, Upton was hitting .232 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs. His best season was in 2007, when he hit .300 with 24 home runs and 82 RBIs.
"You are talking about a guy who steals over 50 bases a year," Zimmerman said. "His batting average has been kind of up and down, but it's hard to hit for a high average. That will come with time. He has the speed to put pressure on the other team just by getting on base."
When they played together as kids in Virginia, Zimmerman said that Upton was one of the best players on the team. Upton would later be taken as the second overall pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
Zimmerman also believes Upton is misunderstood as a person.
"He is a quiet guy and I think a lot of people take that the wrong way, but he works hard, he wants to be the best at what he does," Zimmerman said. "He was young for a while there. We all do things when we are young that we learn from. As he continues to mature, as well all do, he is going to become a better player."
Desmond likely to stay put with Nationals
LOS ANGELES -- According to a baseball source, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is a fan of shortstop Ian Desmond, who most likely will remain with the Nationals past the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
The source pointed out that Desmond is having a spectacular season on defense and is capable of putting up nice numbers like he did last season. In 2010, Desmond hit .269 with 10 homers and 65 RBIs. This season, Desmond has struggled, hitting .228.
"If Desmond puts it all together in one season for another team, they would look foolish for trading Desmond," the source said.
Nats show interest in Japanese righty Darvish
LOS ANGELES -- Count the Nationals as a team that has interest in Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish, according to a baseball source.
Darvish currently plays for the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Pacific League in Japan and is considered a dominating pitcher. Entering Saturday's action, Darvish is 13-2 with a 1.44 ERA for Nippon. Prior to this year, Darvish had pitched in 100 games for the Nippon, going 58-22 with a 1.81 ERA.
"[The Nationals] would be foolish if [they] didn't look him," the source said.
In the United States, Darvish helped Japan win the World Baseball Classic in 2009.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.