VIERA, Fla. — Nationals manager Davey Johnson was asked a question Thursday about whether or not second baseman Danny Espinosa would field grounders at shortstop during spring workouts as a way to keep his feet moving.
The question was asked because Espinosa, a converted shortstop but the Nationals every day second baseman, took grounders at the position one day late last season. When asked about the exercise he said it was just because his feet could get heavy at second base so it was a good way for him to keep them active.
Johnson threw in another reason on Thursday: in case of emergency, if shortstop Ian Desmond were to be lost for a significant amount of time, Espinosa would likely present the Nationals with their best option for a replacement.
But, he cautions adamantly, there’s no need to read anything more into it.
“I already talked to (general manager Mike Rizzo) and some games when Desi was not going (to an away game this spring), I would play Espi,” Johnson said. “Because if something did happen, if Desi got hurt and it was going to be over two or three days, Espi would probably be (the top replacement) in comparison with (Mark) DeRosa, (Steve) Lombardozzi or (Andres) Blanco as an every-day guy at short. So I would look at that to see how it affected him mentally to move him a couple games in the spring.”
In years past, there was speculation that Espinosa’s ultimate position with the Nationals would be shortstop with Desmond shifting elsewhere. That is, without question, not the case here and Johnson wanted to make sure that was conveyed properly and forcefully.
“(Emergency) is the only reason,” Johnson said. “There was all this speculation I heard over the years about Desi being an outfielder/second baseman. I wouldn’t want him to think that we’re still revisiting all that.”
Lombardozzi will also move around frequently this spring, playing second, shortstop and third base and DeRosa will get reps at third base, second base, first and the corner outfield positions.