- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
- Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
- Oh my God! Costco lists Bible as fiction, Ron Burgundy memoir as gospel
Rookie Espinosa happy to take several for the team
He’s been hit by pitch an NL-high 12 times
SAN FRANCISCO — When Esmerling Vasquez's 0-1 offering landed squarely in the middle of Danny Espinosa's back Sunday, the Washington Nationals second baseman was incensed.
The National League's leader in hit-by-pitches didn't appreciate the message behind that plunking, one of four times the Nationals were hit by Diamondbacks pitches on Sunday. Washington and Arizona combined for 10 HBPs in the four-game series.
But Espinosa wasn't upset about the free pass to first base — especially after catcher Wilson Ramos crushed a three-run homer one batter later.
For Espinosa, who refuses to give up the inside part of the plate, being hit has proved a productive way to reach base.
"If the ball's inside, I'm not going to move," Espinosa said. "Especially as a young guy, they think they can get you off the plate.
"If it's at my head, obviously I'll move. But just because it's an inside pitch, I'm not going to move. Especially with two strikes, no shot I'm moving."
The strategy has produced 12 instances in which Espinosa's been hit with a pitch — and several bruises — but it's also helped him maintain a respectable .321 on-base percentage even though his average sits at .218 through 60 games. In 239 plate appearances, Espinosa has walked or been hit by a pitch 32 times — almost as many times as he's had a hit (44). He also has hit 10 home runs.
As far as the Espinosa can tell, pitchers are trying to establish the inner portion of the plate and push the rookie back, out of his comfort zone in the batter's box. That's fine with him. He has no plans of moving — an attitude he attributes both to approach at the plate as well as his collegiate upbringing at Long Beach State University that emphasized team over individual.
"The way I was taught was, 'You better not move, you're helping the team. You get hit by that pitch,' " he said. "It's probably just the thing that I was taught, and it stuck with me because that's how I feel about it. I'm not going to get killed by it unless it's at my head."
It's an approach that seems to have made him a magnet. Not only is Espinosa just one HBP from tying the major league-leader Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox with 13, but he's already been hit so many times that in 2010 he'd have qualified for the top 10 at season's end.
It's a painful approach, but it's not recklessness. Espinosa gets annoyed with pitches that hit him in the knees and once took one off his right elbow in the minor leagues that hurt so bad he thought he broke his arm. He didn't, and he only missed the rest of that game. And instead of changing his approach, he just wears an elbow pad As long as he's on base, he doesn't care how he gets there.
"It definitely happens," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "Some guys just get hit more than others, I don't really know why. I think that they don't give in at all at the plate ... You see guys get hit down in the lower leg and things like that, [former Milwaukee Brewer Fernando] Vina used to do that to lead off the game, stick his leg out there and get hit, but it's part of the game. Get on base, they're helping their team."
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
- CURL: 'Mission Accomplished' for Obamacare
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
- Russian diplomats busted bilking $1.5 million from Medicaid
- American teacher shot and killed at Benghazi international school
- U.S. drops 2,000 mice on Guam by parachute to kill snakes
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
Entertainment News and Reviews from Washington, D.C. and beyond.
White House pets gone wild!