The Washington Times - April 16, 2012, 07:22PM

Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa was out of the starting lineup on Monday, a mental break as Nationals manager Davey Johnson put it. The day off came as a surprise to the second baseman, who has maintained an extremely positive outlook and is happy with his approach at the plate despite the hits not falling for him just yet.

Johnson admitted it’s difficult for him to sit any of his starting infielders but the day off for Espinosa also allowed Johnson a chance to get Steve Lombardozzi in the starting lineup. Finding at-bats for Lombardozzi, which the Nationals knew they’d have to do in order to make it worthwhile for him to be at the major league level this season, has been difficult thus far. In the 10 games the Nationals have played, Lombardozzi has just seven at-bats.


“I told Espi, ‘It’s just more of a mental break,’” Johnson said. “‘I know you’re not tired. You played almost every inning under me since I’ve been here, so you know I like you a lot, but I see mentally pressing a little bit.’”

Johnson was quick to point out that Espinosa, who has seven hits in 36 at-bats but has also worked eight walks, is not the only one he sees that type of thing with early this season as guys try to work their way into a groove. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (.179) is in the same boat.

“Zim’s in that category,” Johnson said. “I’ve been thinking about giving him a blow.”

Johnson added with a laugh that he’d most likely not give Zimmerman his day off at home, quipping: “I don’t want the fans to lynch me.”

“Guys that have a lot of makeup, really trying to do too much, trying to make it happen, what happens is you expand the zone, get yourself out more than you should,” Johnson said.

Here are the full lineups behind Stephen Strasburg and Kyle Weiland.


Ian Desmond SS
Steve Lombardozzi 2B
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Jayson Werth RF
Xavier Nady LF
Rick Ankiel CF
Wilson Ramos C
Stephen Strasburg P


Jordan Schafer CF
Jed Lowrie SS
J.D. Martinez LF
Carlos Lee 1B
Travis Buck RF
Chris Johnson 3B
Jason Castro C
Jose Altuve 2B
Kyle Weiland P