VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson has often said he is confident that shortstop Ian Desmond can be his leadoff hitter in 2012. It helped that Desmond hit .289 with a .338 on-base percentage after the All-Star break last year.
Desmond is confident that he can be that table-setter who can score a lot of runs.
"I don't think there is anything I can't do. I'm not going to sell myself short," Desmond said. "I have to go out there, put good at-bats together and be that tough out; try to get on base for the guys behind me.
"I think when I do get on base, I have to be a good baserunner. I have to pick and choose my spots to steal and be smart. We have guys behind me that can drive me in from first. It's not necessarily going out and stealing 75 bags. It's about getting on base and just letting the big guys drive me in."
Lannan not paying attention to trade rumors
VIERA, Fla. -- Ever since the Nationals signed free-agent right-hander Edwin Jackson to a one-year, $11 million contract earlier this month, left-hander John Lannan has been the subject of trade rumors.
If the season started Friday and Washington's starters -- Jackson, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Chien-Ming Wang -- were healthy, Lannan likely would be the odd man out of the rotation. There has been talk that Washington would trade Lannan for a position player -- perhaps the center fielder the club is looking for.
Ask Lannan about the trade rumors and he will tell you he is focused on Spring Training and pitching for the Nationals.
"One thing that hasn't changed: I have to get ready for the season," Lannan said. "No matter what happens or what the future holds, I can't control [trade rumors]. All I can say is, I'm ready to pitch and I'm ready to contribute. I haven't really paid attention to anything. I have to concentrate on what I can control, and that is the pitches I make. And [I need to] try to make sure I'm ready to pitch for the season."
Lannan said he takes the trade rumors in stride because he has seen other players go through the same thing every year.
"It doesn't mean it's going to happen. It's just basically talk right now. I don't give it any substance," Lannan said. "Until I'm told otherwise, I'm a National. I just go about my business as a National."
Last season, Lannan was solid for Washington, winning 10 games with a 3.70 ERA. He is expected to make $5 million this season. Lannan has yet to talk to general manager Mike Rizzo about his future with the club.
"If there is a reason to talk, I'm sure we will," Lannan said. "Right now, I think it's more important to discuss how this team is going to win ballgames, how we are going to come together as a team and compete in the NL East."
Jackson excited to be a part of Nats' staff
VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander Edwin Jackson thought he was going to be a member of the Nationals in 2010. In fact, as a member of the D-backs, he thought he would be part of a three-team trade which involved the Nationals, White Sox and D-backs. But Washington's part in the trade never materialized.
"I was aware there was a potential trade in 2010," Jackson said.
Instead, he was dealt to the White Sox before the Trade Deadline. Two years later, Jackson became a free agent and signed a one-year, $11 million deal with Washington.
Asked why he decided to play for Washington in 2012, Jackson said, "You look at the team and there is a lot of youth and a lot of energy. There is a lot of potential, there are a lot of up-and-coming future stars on the team. To come over and be a part of those guys, it definitely helps to be energized and look forward to pitch well."
Reports surfaced this offseason that the Pirates offered a three-year deal to Jackson, who declined to discuss contract negotiations. But he hopes to stay with Washington beyond 2012.
"For the most part, I went with what I felt would be better for me. I would be coming here for one year," Jackson said. "You never know, it could be more than a one-year deal. Who knows what the future holds?"
The Nationals are hoping Jackson gets better results by tweaking his delivery. For example, when Jackson pitched from the stretch in 2011, opposing hitters hit .239. When he pitched from the windup, opposing batters had a .339 batting average against him.
"[From the windup], I was going over my head. Some may have thought I was tipping [my pitches]. Whether I was or not, I don't know. I'm not sure," Jackson said. "It's just a matter of fine-tuning my mechanics, be more consistent and locate the ball better."
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.