Washington Nationals' second baseman Danny Espinosa talked to reporters this afternoon about the torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder after revealing the details of the injury on ESPN980's The Sports Reporters this past Thursday. Espinosa talked openly in the radio interview about how he was just starting to turn things around at the plate after a rough first half of the 2012 season when he suffered the shoulder injury this past summer. "I started to swing the bat better about halfway through the season," the 25-year-old infielder explained, "until I got injured and found out that I had torn my rotator cuff in my left shoulder. That really set me back that last month when I was doing well. It was an injury that really affected my swing and my mobility with my arm, but I rehabbed it and it's a lot better now."
Espinosa had an MRI in mid-September which revealed a bone bruise and swelling, and he had a cortisone shot at the time which lessened the pain, but as he told reporters this afternoon, another examination by Dr. Lewis Yocum, this one done with contrast dye after the season ended and the issue persisted, revealed a full tear of the rotator cuff in his left shoulder which the second-year second baseman said definitely affected his production down the stretch. Espinosa finished his second full season in the majors with a .247/.315/.402 line, 37 doubles, 17 HRs and 20 stolen bases in 160 games and 658 plate appearances over which he was worth +3.8 fWAR.
The Nats' second baseman started the second half with a .293/.344/.482 line from mid-July to early September when he injured the shoulder on a diving defensive play in a game against Miami. Espinosa had a .171/.247/.271 line the rest of the way and went 1 for 15 with seven strikeouts in the five-game NLDS with St. Louis.
The Nationals' 08 3rd Round pick said today he decided against surgery because it would likely have caused him to miss several months at the start of the 2013 campaign, opting instead to build strength in his shoulder with the help of his trainers in the hope that it would be strong enough to allow him to play in the upcoming season.
Espinosa played through the pain last year and is apparently going to try to play with the injury this season. Davey Johnson talked openly last summer about the difficulty he had getting either of his middle infielders to sit out, telling reporters, "I've got to fight the two guys up the middle, whenever I say, 'Let me give you a day off,'" the response he gets is, "'Are you kidding me? Are we trying to win or what?'"
In spite of his struggles at the plate, the Nats' skipper expressed confidence in Espinosa's abilities earlier this winter, telling the Washington Post's James Wagner, that he expected a big year from the infielder who made "giant steps" in his development in his second full season in the majors this past summer, playing all but two games for the NL East division champs.