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Desmond swinging bat again

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Desmond swinging bat again

PHOENIX -- Ian Desmond took about 20 swings in the batting cage this evening, the first time the Nationals shortstop has been cleared to do that since landing on the disabled list with a torn left oblique muscle on July 23.

Desmond has been taking grounders and playing catch since Monday, but tonight ramped up his baseball activities to include batting practice, moving him a step closer to returning to the Nationals lineup.

That full return still won't happen for a while, likely not until early September, though manager Davey Johnson doesn't intend to hold Desmond back.

"When that man's ready, I want him back," Johnson said.

Desmond played through the injury for about a month, posting the best offensive numbers of his career and earning his first All-Star selection. But the tear got worse shortly after the All-Star break and he was forced to the DL.

At this point, Desmond doesn't feel any pain to the touch in his left side, an encouraging sign of his progress. He's said all along the swinging motion was the biggest concern with this type of injury.

Because he managed to play through some pain earlier this summer, Desmond might feel like he can return to the lineup before the tear is 100 percent healed. The Nationals might use more caution, with team orthopedist Wiemi Douoguih likely having the final say.

"If you can swing and you don't feel any stabbing pain or anything, then you're ready to go ... as a player," Johnson said. "Dr. Wiemi, he wanted to be ultra-cautious on it so that there's no symptoms of it at all when he comes back. And he used Matt Kemp and his hamstring as an example, where they rushed him back and they doubled the time. I like our medical staff a lot. I think they're very competent. So whenever he gives the green light, we'll take the wraps off."

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Ten very good Pups in the Park who don't care that the Nats lost

Ten very good Pups in the Park who don't care that the Nats lost

Nationals Park opened its gates to dogs on Sunday for "Pups in the Park." Humans and their doggos got to sit in outfield section 140-143 with tickets being $30 per person and $10 per canine.

The Nationals ended up losing to the Reds, but that didn't put a damper on the afternoon for the guests of honor. 

Sometimes, its a blessing not to know what's going on. Just check out these ten happy puppers. 

1. Teddy, who's cuter than any racing president

2. Steve, who looks great in hats

Steve the dog 🐶 showing his natitude #pupsinthepark #nats

A post shared by Jen (@see_jho_run) on

3. Penny, who probably wasn't easy to carry around

Today was a good day to be Penny. #ballgame⚾️ #natsbestbuds #pupsinthepark

A post shared by Sheri (@pennysmom87) on

We took her out to the ball game! #pupsinthepark #natsbestbuds

A post shared by Sheri (@pennysmom87) on

4. Apollo, a Nats fan from a young age

5. Ellie, who plans to use this photo for #TongueOutTuesday

6. Auryn, who isn't even watching the game

Happiest little corgi in the park #aurynthedog @viano_perez #pupsinthepark #nats

A post shared by Taylor Pittman (@taylorp712) on

7. Moussie, who trimmed his beard just for the occasion

MOUSSIE IN THE PARK ⚾️🐶

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8. Dasher, obviously the favorite granddog

9. Bentley and Abby, whose moms can be overbearing 

Enjoying #pupsinthepark at @nationals game! #Bentley #Abby #ForcedPhotos 🐶🐶⚾️

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10. PJ, who squeezed into this selfie at the last minute

It's #pupsinthepark day at #nationals park. PJ is ready for a big Nats win!

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Washington is now 13-19 in days games this season, significantly worse than their 31-11 night record. But these furry friends don't know that!

MORE NATIONALS: Roark's shaky start dooms Nats in loss to Reds

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Nationals can't overcome Tanner Roark's first inning, lose to Reds

Nationals can't overcome Tanner Roark's first inning, lose to Reds

WASHINGTON (AP) – Scooter Gennett homered and got four hits, and the Cincinnati Reds scored five times in the first inning off Tanner Roark en route to a 6-2 victory over Washington Nationals on Sunday.

The Reds won for just the second time in 15 games. Gennett's four hits were his most since he got five while becoming the 17th major league player homer four times in a game on June 6.

Gennett had an RBI single in the first and hit his 11th home run in the second. The second baseman also threw out Brian Goodwin at the plate on a fifth-inning relay, preventing Bryce Harper from recording an RBI on a three-hit day.

Scott Feldman (6-5) pitched seven innings. He allowed both runs on Michael Taylor's 11th homer.

Roark (6-5) gave up six runs over six innings and 115 pitches after requiring 40 to complete the first. The right-hander has now yielded 19 runs over his last three starts as his ERA has risen more than a run to 5.15.

Billy Hamilton led off the game with a double and scored a single by Gennett. Joey Votto also singled, and Gennett scored on Harper's throwing error from right field.

A grounder made it 3-0 before Tucker Barnhart hit a two-out, two-run double off Harper's outstretched glove.

Gennett homered into the Nationals' bullpen in the second.

Taylor homered in the fourth. He connected twice Saturday in Washington's 18-3 romp.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Reds: 3B Eugenio Suarez was out of the starting lineup for the first time since June 8, but came in as a defensive replacement and popped out in the ninth. He is hitting .180 over his last 17 games and is just 2 for 18 on the Reds' road trip.

Nationals: LHP Sammy Solis (elbow) made a fifth rehab outing on Saturday night, retiring two batters on 11 pitches.

UP NEXT

Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan (1-0, 2.70) draws the start Monday at St. Louis in a makeup game from an April 29 rainout. It is Finnegan's first outing since going on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury on April 16.

Nationals: Begin a four-game home series against the Cubs, who are combined .206 (20 for 97) against Gio Gonzalez (7-1, 2.96), Washington's starter on Monday.

MORE NATIONALS: Nats clobber Reds 18-3