2012 Spring Training began in earnest for the Washington Nationals on Sunday, with pitchers and catchers due at the training facility in Viera, Florida by midnight. Shortstop Ian Desmond is in Viera, and will be donning a new jersey number this year, switching from No. 6 to No. 20. His explanation for the move is after the jump, via Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider.
And why No. 20? Because a pair of former athletic greats who are special to Desmond wore that number: Frank Robinson and Barry Sanders.
Robinson, in particular, means a lot to the shortstop. When an 18-year-old Desmond was given a chance to play in a few spring training games in 2005, Robinson took him under his wing. The Hall of Famer and former manager went so far as to bring Desmond to Washington for the Nationals' first-ever exhibition game at RFK Stadium, and drive him to the ballpark.
Desmond has donned No. 6 for 329 games as a member of the Nationals. Washington never retired Robinson's No. 20 after his managerial run with the team ended after the 2006 season, with Adam Kennedy actually wearing the number in 2010.
We'll have much more on Spring Training here at SB Nation DC in the coming weeks. In the meantime, check out SB Nation's Nationals blog, Federal Baseball, for more news and notes. And don't forget to visit Baseball Nation, the MLB hub of SB Nation for information from around the league.