Cal Ripken Jr. gives 'a little bit of hope' to struggling Ian Desmond

Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who hasn't performed to expectations this season, said a chance meeting with former Baltimore Orioles star and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. might have provided him a boost.

"The other day, I was walking to the park, and Cal Ripken was out there signing autographs in the parking lot," Desmond said Monday. "He kind of grabbed me, and he said, 'Hey, back in '93, through the first 80 games, I was hitting .199.' He said, 'I finished with a pretty good year. You're going to be all right.' And that kind of gave me a little bit of hope. If he did it and grinded through it, I can too."

Desmond hit a two-run homer off New York Mets reliever Alex Torres in the eighth inning of Monday night's 7-2 win. He went 2-for-4 at the plate to boost his batting average to .208, and he now has eight home runs and 26 RBIs this season. However, those numbers fall short of his .263 career average and his highs of 25 home runs in 2012 and 91 RBIs in 2014.

A prolonged slump led manager Matt Williams to give Desmond a couple days off the past month. The shortstop made six errors in eight games early in the season.

Williams said last month that he believed Desmond would turn things around.

"I don't think it's a problem," Williams said. "He works and works and works. He's told you guys, and he's told everybody that he will be OK, and he's going to work out of it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.