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02/19/12 6:55 PM EST

Desmond honors Robinson with No. 20

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond decided to change his uniform number from 6 to 20 because he wanted to honor Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and football great Barry Sanders.

Desmond talked mostly about Robinson, who was the Nationals' manager when Desmond participated in his first big league camp in 2005. Desmond said Robinson was the first person in professional baseball to believe in his abilities on the diamond.

"He kind of like guided me and I stay in touch with him to this day," Desmond said. "He was a [great] player. Why not? He handled himself right. He was a player/manager. It goes to show the type of guy that he was -- not only the records and all the other stuff. But he was a good mentor to me."

Desmond also feels the Nationals should honor Robinson because he was the first manager in Nationals' history.

"That kind of means something," Desmond said.

Desmond also said the Nationals don't do enough to pay respect to the Expos.

"I came up with the Expos, I'm still a National," Desmond said. "I'm like one of the longest tenured guys in the organization. It did kind of carry over from the Expos to Nationals. I'm living proof."

The Nats did put the names of Gary Carter and Andre Dawson in the ring of honor at Nationals Park in 2010.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.