WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals hosted the Colorado Rockies over the weekend and welcomed back an old familiar friend in Ian Desmond. The Nats did not miss a moment either, greeting him as players, fans, and as an organization.
This was the first time that Desmond has returned to D.C. since leaving in 2016. He still has yet to play his former team, suffering injuries before both the series in Colorado earlier this season and this series as well, but he did make the road trip with his new teammates.
Here’s a recap of the reaction to his return, from the pre-game greetings to the standing ovation from fans:
Once upon a time, Desmond was a rising star in Washington and could have been the face of the franchise if not for the presence of Bryce Harper. Desmond was the consummate professional, offensive powerhouse at a key position, five tool player and clubhouse guy.
He was everything that the front office wanted to build around when they offered him a reported seven-year, $107 million following the 2014 season. Still a seasonn away from free agency, Desmond declined the offer and bet on himself for 2015. But instead of piling on, he had the worst season imaginable.
Even though it was easy to let him walk after batting .233/.290/.384 in 2015, it was still a difficult decision. Desmond seemed like the prime candidate to bounce back on someone else’s roster, and that’s exactly what he did.
Last year was an All-Star campaign for Desmond, despite switching teams, leagues, positions and his approach at the plate. While it may be easy for Nats fans to wish him well, it’s fair to wonder what he might look like in the middle of this already potent lineup, especially with Trea Turner on the shelf.
And as the Nats gear up for yet another postseason run this weekend, hosting Desmond was a little bit like unexpectedly bumping into an old flame. Desmond looks for all the world like the one who got away.
“I got a lot more emotional than I thought I would,” he told the media before the game on Friday. “I forgot a lot of roads too, which I didn’t think would happen. But really good to see everyone, to be honest. I ran into a couple of my buddies…it’s great. It’s good to see everybody and I’m happy to be back.
“I think it’s just good to get back. I’m not necessarily thinking about games or history here. It’s just more about spending time with the people that you care about for so long. They become part of your family and part of your daily life. So it’s good to see them. It would have been really nice to get back out there on the field here and kind of go through some of the routine. But I’ve got five years in the National League, so I’ll be back next year.
“This was home for a long time and it doesn’t matter what door you go in–it still feels good,” he concluded. “Like I said, I didn’t know how emotional it was going to be.”