Desmond settles at camp after rumor-filled offseason

VIERA, Fl. — Spring Training is only a few days old and there’s already been plenty of talk about what the next offseason could bring. Mike Rizzo will face some tough decisions concerning this roster after 2015.

There are a number of players that will be free agents at the end of this year, including shortstop Ian Desmond. He’s been with the organization since being drafted by Montreal in 2004, and the rumors swirled this off season that he was on the verge of being traded to both the Mariners and Mets. He turned down a contract extension last offseason and now is playing in his final year before reaching free agency. Nevertheless, Desmond enters camp a lot more relaxed and says he’s only worried about this year and won’t let anything else be a distraction.

“I’m not thinking about it, I’m going to enjoy this ride,” he said Monday. “You know what? If it’s my last year here, it’s my last year here. But I’m going to enjoy every single day. I owe it to everybody here to give it my 100 percent concentration.”

Pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is in the same boat as Desmond and will be a free agent after this season as well. He has no problem with the two sides talking about a contract during Spring Training, but said once the season starts, it’s time to concentrate on baseball. Does Desmond have a cutoff date as well?

“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said. “Contract stuff, I’ve never really talked about with (the media), I’ve kinda kept it to myself and my agent. We’ve got a lot of expectations in here and in order to reach them we have to be really focused, and I’m not going to be the one that adds any extra distraction.”

There was a chance that Desmond wasn’t even going to make it this far. There were rumors floating around that he was very close to being dealt to multiple teams this offseason. Desmond said he didn’t put that much thought into it because he never heard from anyone in the organization that it was going to happen. His phone finally did ring, however.

“Matt (Williams) called me and said, ‘You aren’t getting traded,’” Desmond said. “This is a business and you gotta test that market. I don’t blame them for doing that, I don’t hold anything against them. This is a really good baseball team and I’m glad to be here.”

Williams felt it was the right thing to do.

“I wanted to free his mind,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of things that are said and speculated on, but from me to you, I want to give you the real story. I told him, ‘Concentrate on getting ready. We’re not in trade talks with you at this point so just relax and get ready.’”

There is a potential for it to weigh on Desmond’s mind this season, but the second-year manager doesn’t think that will be an issue.

“I don’t want him to worry about going into the season because he won’t be as productive as he wants to be or as we want him to be,” Williams said. “I don’t think he’s thinking about it at this point. He’s here to get ready to play and hopefully help us win a lot of games.”

Desmond mentioned on several occasions last year that he was never really comfortable at the plate, so this offseason he didn’t watch much tape at all.

“I just hit,” he said. “(The) ball came in and I hit it. Eventually, everything started to kind of fall back into line. Once I got it out of my head, that became a little easier.”

Given all that, he’s still pretty optimistic heading into camp.

“I’m pretty free right now,” he said. “I’m in a very good place mentally and excited about all the things the team is doing.”

George Wallace

George Wallace is the WTOP sports director. He began at WTOP on Christmas Day of 2000.

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