08/18/12 12:23 AM ET
Nationals activate Desmond, designate Izturis
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Desmond hasn't played in a game since July 21 because of a torn oblique. The Nationals were 19-6 during his absence. On Thursday, Desmond took batting practice and infield drills at Nationals Park and didn't experience any problems.
"It's exciting to get back out there. It's not tough to watch the team win, but tough to not be playing and contributing. I'm excited to be back out there with the guys," Desmond said.
Manager Davey Johnson didn't feel Desmond needed a rehab assignment to get his timing back.
"I never knew what a rehab assignment was when I was a player," Johnson said. "The only thing that I worry about is [if] he wasn't completely healed. ... I've been watching him swing. He has had no discomfort."
Desmond is having the best season of career, hitting .286 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs in 89 games entering Friday's series opener vs. the Mets. He was selected to play in his first All-Star Game, but didn't go to Kansas City because of the oblique injury. Desmond said Johnson has played a role in that success this season.
"I'm getting a little more comfortable in the league, starting to know the other teams, other players, things like that," Desmond said. "Obviously, having Davey has been great. He has faith in me. He just ran me out there. He believes in me and he is not afraid to say it. I don't take it for granted. If I feel uncertain about something, I go to him. He gives me reassurances -- whether it's a tip here or there or a kick in the butt. It has been a pleasure to play for him."
With Desmond back in the starting lineup hitting sixth against the Mets, Danny Espinosa moved from shortstop to second base, while Steve Lombardozzi, who was playing often at second base, returns to a role as a utility man. He will now see action in the infield and outfield.
"It was wonderful watching these young guys play and get better," Johnson said. "We've had opportunities here for a lot young guys to show they can play."
As for Izturis, he played in five games for Washington and went 2-for-4 with four runs scored. He was claimed off waivers from the Brewers on Aug. 6.
Johnson expects Izturis to be claimed by another team within 48 hours. If he isn't, the Nationals told him to take some time off, sharpen his skills, and they will bring him back to the big leagues on Sept. 1.
"Cesar was a great teammate around here. He is a class act. He really played well. He is a good player," Johnson said. "He filled a very valuable role for us. The whole time he was here, Espinosa was getting better and better, which we thought he was going to do. But [Izturis] was a great insurance policy. He was fun to talk to. He was like having a ... [starter] in your bullpen if something happened to your starter. He could start the game."
Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang is expected to get a few more starts in the Minor Leagues before being activated from the disabled list, according to Johnson. Wang has been on the DL since July 3 with a right hip strain.
Wang was going to pitch in a simulated game on Thursday at Nationals Park, but that was postponed because he pitched for Double-A Harrisburg and allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings that same day in a 4-1 loss to Akron.
Besides Jayson Werth, Johnson will consider Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper as leadoff hitters. Johnson also said Desmond will remain in the middle of the order.
Johnson said Harper will not start Saturday's game against Mets left-hander Jon Niese. Tyler Moore will get the start in left field, while Jayson Werth will start in center. Harper, according to Johnson, was not happy with the move. It's simply a day off, and Johnson wants to give Moore some at-bats.
Nationals Minor League catcher Michael Albaladejo has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for Methylhexaneamine. The suspension of Albaladejo, who is currently on the roster of the Gulf Coast League Nationals, is effective immediately.
Albaladejo is the third member of the Nationals to be suspended following violations of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Last June, Triple-A Syracuse right-hander Josh Wilkie was suspended for 50 games because of use of "a drug of abuse." Wilkie is best known for getting a tryout with the Nationals with the help from former outfielder Jose Guillen. Wilkie ended up signing a free-agent contract with the team in 2006.
This offseason, right-handed pitcher Zechry Zinicola received a 50-game suspension after a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a "drug of abuse."
When reached by phone this winter, Zinicola said the positive test result may have come from his use of synthetic marijuana. Zinicola already served his suspension.
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.