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Desmond leads Nats offense in Philly

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Desmond leads Nats offense in Philly

Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez said after the teams 2-1 win over the Phillies on Monday that he approached shortstop Ian Desmond prior to the game to ask for his help. Gonzalez said he wasnt feeling quite well and could use a boost from his teammates.

I was telling him today, Im going to need you out there, Im a little under the weather. I need you to go out there and keep me lifted right now, Gonzalez said.

And he did that job, he was out there doing his job and putting in runs for us.

Desmond in fact accounted for both Nationals runs, he launched a solo home run in the second inning and poked a RBI single in the fourth. He and Gonzalez played against eachother while in high school in Florida and the Nats pitcher is thankful to now play for the same team.

Ive known Desi for quite a while now, almost ten years now or nine years, and hes always been the same athlete I remember in high school, he said.

He is a competitor, he was a leader when he was in high school and I feel like hes a leader in here too.

Of all the surprises the Nationals have seen this season, a lot of good and some bad with injuries, Desmonds play may be the most positive development. The 26-year-old has been one of the teams most maligned players in recent years with sinking on-base percentages and soaring error totals.

Before the season Desmond looked like the one weak link in the Nats lineup on paper, it was a big question whether he could handle the leadoff position with such a deep lineup behind him. But this year Desmond has found success in all parts of the game and has been one of their most consistent all-around players.

Desmond was switched from leadoff to the fifth spot on Saturday and in the three games since has not slowed down. After Monday he is 5-for-13 with four RBI, a homer, and a run when batting fifth. It represents a different dynamic, clearing the table rather than setting it, but Desmond is happy almost wherever he hits.

I like batting everywhere but eight. I really dont mind hitting anywhere. I am fortunate to have good hitters around me to get good pitches, he said.

Desmond is now tied with Adam LaRoche for the team lead with seven home runs on the season. His seven in 41 games has him on pace to hit 27 homers on the season which would be five more than he hit in his first three MLB seasons combined. It also slots him first in the National League for shortstops and third overall in the majors.

As for why he is hitting with more power this season?

I think daddy strength. They say when you have a kid you get stronger, so thanks Grayson, he said, referring to his young son.

I dont know whats happening, Im blacking out.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others