PHILADELPHIA — Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday during his weekly radio show on the team’s flagship station that the team had activated Danny Espinosa from the disabled list and officially optioned him to Triple-A Syracuse.
The move, which was essentially a procedural one, was somewhat expected after the way Espinosa left the team two weeks ago. The Nationals placed Espinosa on the disabled list with a fractured right wrist on June 4 and the second baseman, who is also playing with a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse last week.
But when the team informed Espinosa that they were placing him on the disabled list, it appears it was communicated to him that they wanted him to get healthy — and then get right at the plate in the minor leagues.
Espinosa cleaned out his locker in the Nationals’ clubhouse when the move was made, an uncommon act for a player simply placed on the disabled list.
After receiving a cortisone shot to help combat some inflammation in his wrist, now more than two months removed from being hit with the pitch that broke it, the team believes Espinosa is healthy. Now they want to see him return to the player he was at the outset of his rookie season, when he entered the All-Star break hitting .242 with 35 extra-base hits — including 16 homers.
In the meantime, the team is extremely pleased with what top prospect Anthony Rendon has done in seizing control of the everyday job at second base, hitting .395 with six doubles and a homer since being recalled from the minor leagues on June 4.
“Now that Danny’s healthy, he needs to go ahead and show what he’s capable of doing,” manager Davey Johnson said Monday. “He certainly has the talent to do it.
“What Rendon’s doing shouldn’t have any bearing on what he’s doing. He needs to get comfortable both sides of the dish and do the things he’s capable of doing. I know he’s handling it defensively. But he just needs to get in a good frame of mind and get in a good groove left-handed and right-handed, and not worry about anything other than that.”
Rizzo said Wednesday on his radio show that the team wants to see Espinosa get rid of the bad habits he’d fallen into the past few years in the major leagues and return to what made him successful as a minor league prospect. With hitting coach Troy Gingrich, who worked with Espinosa in Double-A in 2010, working with him at Triple-A, that process has begun.
“He needs to re-do a lot of things from both sides,” Rizzo said. “He’s working extremely well. He’s got a very positive attitude down there. He’s making some approach adjustments and, again, he’s a player that we love here. He’s a great athlete and a great all-around player. If we can get him back to where he was during those times in 2010 for that four-and-a-half-month stretch (in 2011), then we’ve got what we thought we had which is a really good all-around player.”
“I don’t think there’s a better defensive second baseman in the league than Danny Espinosa,” Johnson said. “But the one thing we want is Danny to be comfortable on both sides of the dish. When he does that, he could be an All-Star. It’s that simple.”