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How Cal Ripken, Jr. helped Desmond break out of slump

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How Cal Ripken, Jr. helped Desmond break out of slump

Ian Desmond entered Monday's game hitless in his previous 17 at-bats, a streak that dated back to July 10, a span of 10 days. But in the Nats' 7-2 win over the Mets on Monday night, Desmond reached base twice: once on an infield single and then later with a two-run homer, his eighth of the season and the 99th of his career.

Desmond has been struggling all season and with a .208 average after Monday knows he isn't out of the woods quite yet. But the 29-year-old shortstop says he has been feeling better at the plate in recent days and part of the reason may be due to some words of encouragement from arguably the best to ever play his position.

Orioles legend Cal Ripken, Jr. was in Washington over the weekend as part of the broadcast crew for TBS and the two ran into each other before one of the Nats' games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Here is how Desmond described their interaction:

"It's funny, the other day I was walking to the park and Cal Ripken was out there signing autographs in the parking lot. He kind of grabbed me and said 'you know, back in '93 through the first 80 games I was hitting .199 and I finished with a pretty good year. You're going to be alright.' That kind of gave me a little bit of hope. Alright, if he did it and grinded through it, then I can too. That's kind of the mentality I already had, but it's nice to have that reassurance. You never know where it's going to come from or who is going to be the person that lifts you up. You've gotta keep your ears and eyes open all the time."

Ripken wasn't quite hitting .199 through Game 80, but he did go through some rough patches in 1993. He was batting .199 on May 28, the 47th game of the season. And he was hitting just .215 on July 6, his 83rd game. 

Ripken finished that year with a .257 average, 24 homers and 90 RBI. He won a Silver Slugger award and placed 19th in the AL MVP race.

Ripken was linked to the Nationals during their managerial search following the 2013 season before the team hired Matt Williams for the job. Though he didn't end up coaching the Nationals, it appears he may have made an impact on at least one of their players nonetheless.

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE