- Child killed, 4 injured in Idaho elementary school bus crash
- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on ‘outdated’ agencies
- 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
Danny Espinosa trying everything to break out of batting slump
SAN FRANCISCO — Danny Espinosa burst through the doors of the visitors’ clubhouse at AT&T Park on Monday afternoon with his bat in hand and his shirt drenched in sweat. The lineup card posted just across from his locker told the world what the second baseman already knew: He wasn’t playing.
Sunday afternoon, Espinosa was 0 for 4. It was his sixth hitless game in the past seven, a stretch that has featured only one hit in 28 at-bats with 13 strikeouts and no walks.
“Danny’s been trying to get it together,” manager Davey Johnson said Sunday. “He’s just struggling. Everybody knows that.”
So Espinosa arrived at the ballpark Monday and got to work in a long session with hitting coach Rick Eckstein.
“I hate to just single him out,” Johnson said Monday. “But he’s certainly not doing the things he knows he’s capable of doing. It’s frustrating for him and he feels like he’s letting everybody down. He’s trying his best.”
He’s not alone. The Nationals’ offense, collectively, has vastly underperformed. Before Monday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman — two of the five players on the active roster hitting above .250 — tried to remind everyone to relax, speaking up in the normal pre-series hitters’ meeting.
“We’ve got guys, including myself, who are still learning,” Zimmerman said. “Everyone’s still learning. We just need to continue to work, and learn from our mistakes. As the year goes on, we’ll get better.
“We have some guys who are kind of underperforming. It’s still early, but obviously in the middle of May you hope to start getting the ship going the right way.”
Perhaps no one has taken more of the heat for that underperformance than Espinosa, who declined to comment on his recent woes. The second baseman, with 383 major league games under his belt, owns a .232/.304/.400 slash line that significantly belies the talent the team has always seen in him.
“When things don’t go good, it’s easy to point the finger,” Desmond said of the team’s offense. “I just wanted to express to guys, ‘Hey, do what you do best and that’s all we can ask.’ If everybody does the best job they can, at the end of the day we’re going to be a pretty good ballclub.”
Espinosa takes early batting practice routinely, likely far more than any other regular player in the Nationals’ lineup. He watches video. He’s had long conversations about hitting with Johnson. Including Monday, he already has sat out eight games this season — some of them because of a wrist injury. In his first two major league seasons combined, Espinosa missed only five.
But Monday, Eckstein, Espinosa and Johnson took a look at some video from Espinosa’s rookie season in 2011. At the All-Star break that year, Espinosa had a .793 on-base plus slugging percentage. Of his 79 hits, 35 of them were for extra bases and his on-base percentage was respectable at .332. He finished the season with 55 extra-base hits, despite a .236 batting average.
They watched footage of the days when things were going well for Espinosa, and some of the footage from when things have been going bad. They tried to put a few things into practice.
Johnson called Espinosa “very receptive,” but in truth it’d be hard for him not to be. Espinosa is acutely aware that the scoreboard is staring back at him with a .163 average. The left shoulder, housing Espinosa’s torn but rehabbed rotator cuff, is not an issue, Johnson said.
“[Struggling] can wear on you,” Johnson said. “You expect to do things to keep improving and play at a higher level and he’s taken a step or so back. But he’s still a tremendous player, he’s still got tremendous talent. I haven’t given up on him, by any means.”
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.”
© 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
Why such hatred toward America's freedom of religion?
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- Blast of winter weather heads to D.C. area
- GOP launches candidate training: How to talk to women
- Russian diplomats busted bilking $1.5 million from Medicaid
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
Understanding economic events with a free market explanation
John Wood illustrates a new American politics, and the path to get there.
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
White House pets gone wild!