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But it has taken Espinosa at least two years to realize he doesn’t need to play with that added weight on his shoulders. “It’s something I learned,” he said, and points to a story he heard about Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.

“They were asking him, ‘What are your goals this year?’ And he said, ‘I don’t make my goals for the year. I just go out there and let the numbers happen. I don’t set myself up for failure,’” Espinosa said. “I’m just putting myself in a place where I think mentally that I’m going to go out there and enjoy my time. If I don’t put the pressure I have on myself the last three years, then I’ll be fine.”

The only personal goal he has this season is to improve upon the player he was in 2012, and he knows health will be a large factor in that.

Desmond enjoyed all that has come with his breakout season, including a better sense of the player he is and what he’s capable of. If Espinosa can do the same, the comparisons between the two players may never stop.

That’s OK with them, too.

“He’s one of the better young players in baseball,” Desmond said. “I mean, the guy’s a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman with potential to be one of the better offensive second basemen in the game. To be compared to that? I’ve got no problem with that. Heck, no.”

NOTES: Right-hander Chris Young threw 41 pitches (26 strikes) in a minor-league game Monday, his first game action of the spring. Young was mostly pleased with the outing and will be ready to start for the Nationals against the Marlins on Saturday. … The Nationals added veteran outfielder Jason Michaels to their staff as a player/hitting coach in the minor leagues.