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On the plus side, his defense has remained stellar despite his struggles at the plate. Right now, the team has no plans to send Espinosa to the minor leagues, though he has an option and could be sent down without risk of losing him to another team. Johnson indicated Espinosa may return to the lineup Tuesday when the Nationals face Matt Cain.

Maybe it’ll do the trick. After all, in his career, Espinosa has hit .379 at the notoriously pitcher-friendly AT&T Park with a .400 on-base percentage and a .655 slugging percentage. Against Cain, Espinosa is 2 for 7 with a home run.

Maybe, if things click, it’ll be as simple as one good game.

“If I don’t give him the opportunity to come back and do something, it ain’t going to get better,” Johnson said. “I’m surprised that he’s having this kind of problem. But you have to have patience with young players. I know that our fans and ownership and everybody else, they expect us to play good and do well.

“But how you handle adversity is a large part of success. We’ll get through this. Coming in this year, I felt like Danny was a key guy that, if he’d start doing the things I knew he was capable of doing, it could make the year a whole lot of fun. And I still feel that way.”