Wire Taps: Washington Nationals' Danny Espinosa Talks; Jordan Zimmermann Faces The Cardinals

USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals' second baseman Danny Espinosa is determined to have a big year in spite of the torn rotator cuff he suffered late last season and played with throughout the last month-plus of the 2012 campaign. Can Espinosa have a breakout year? Can Jordan Zimmermann beat the St. Louis Cardinals today? Tune in to see.

Today's game between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals is on MASN in the nation's capital and the Nats have a lineup behind Jordan Zimmermann this afternoon that looks close to what you might see come Opening Day. Close, but not the exact lineup you probably expect. Leading off today, instead of Denard Span, is Danny Espinosa, who's also the subject of today's BIG STORY. In an interview with MLB.com's Bill Ladson, the Nats' 25-year-old second baseman talks about his torn rotator cuff, his struggles toward the end of the 2012 campaign and his determination to make the 2013 campaign a breakout season with the defending NL East Champs. Espinosa's off to a strong start. Through nine games, Espinosa is 8 for 25 with a double, two walks and seven Ks. Can Espinosa take the next step? He seems to think so. See what he had to say below and tune in at 1:05 pm EST this afternoon to see the Nats take on the Cards in Grapefruit League action. Until then it's links and lots of them, starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "If we would have caught it earlier, I would probably shut the season down. I wasn't very useful at that point, I didn't feel. Defensively, I could still play, but offensively ..." - "Espinosa opens up about dealing with torn rotator cuff" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• NATS BEAT:

• "[Danny] Espinosa’s defense, power, base running and durability last season made him one of the league’s most valuable second basemen." - "Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa works on his swing from the left side" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "What the Nationals and their fans are about to encounter, not just this year, but probably for several seasons — and if they’re very lucky for even longer than that — is thrilling stuff." - "Washington Nationals, as one of MLB’s best are guaranteed . . . almost nothing" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• "The reality is [Cole] Kimball and [Chris] Marrero, while a part of the Nats this spring, are probably on the outside looking in when the season starts April 1." - "Cole Kimball, Chris Marrero hope to make up for lost year" - Mike Harris, Washington Times

• "[Bryce] Harper's toss was strong and right on the money, but it skipped away from [Tyler] Moore, who couldn't have possibly seen that throw coming." - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson on Harper, Gonzalez, Storen and Mattheus" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Davey] Johnson named 2012 Nationals minor league pitcher of the year Nathan Karns and non-roster invitee Ross Ohlendorf as candidates to replace [Gio] Gonzalez in the rotation as long as he pitches for Team USA." - "Gio Gonzalez’s pitch limit and Nationals-Astros lineups" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "'I felt like three innings and I was still working on stuff and it felt like I was building more strength as the game went along.'' - "Spring training blog: Gio preps for Classic but Nats fall to Astros" - Craig Heist, WTOP.com

• "The Nats put up a fight later in the game with two runs of their own in the eighth, thanks to a two-run single from Michael Taylor." - "Gio Gonzalez goes three scoreless, but offense falters vs. Astros" - Brian McTaggart, nationals.com: News

• "At the halfway point of spring training, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson can only find one thing to complain about." - "The Nationals’ tranquil spring training hits the halfway point" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

Honkball Update: Roger Bernadina - 0 for 3, 1 BB - World Baseball Classic: Netherlands 6, Cuba 2 at Tokyo Dome

• "Stephen Strasburg threw 67 pitches against the Phillies yesterday; [Gio] Gonzalez threw 42 in today's game before tossing a handful more in the bullpen to get in some extra work." - "Nationals Pastime: Gonzalez's final tune-up before WBC a solid one" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Caution over rules for the World Baseball Classic limited Gio Gonzalez to 42 pitches Thursday afternoon in his final Washington Nationals start before joining Team USA." - "Nationals notes: Short stint for Gio Gonzalez before WBC" - Nathan Fenno, Washington Times

• "Chris Young, signed to a Minor League deal, will pitch in Ross Detwiler's place on Saturday against the Marlins. He threw 41 pitches in two innings of a Minor League intrasquad game on Tuesday." - "Nats look to Young to fill in during Classic" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

• "[Gio] Gonzalez had better command of his fastball today than in any previous start. He needed only 13 pitches to navigate the first, escaping a two-on, one-out jam after a Chris Carter double." - "Gio Gonzalez moves on to the WBC, Micah Owings plays outfield, Ryan Mattheus loses his clean sheet, etc." - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Manager Davey Johnson said the Nationals reached out to the Team USA brass and MLB offices to get clarification on the rule, but they wanted to play it safe to keep [Gio] Gonzalez eligible..." - "Nats cautious with Gio before he leaves for Classic" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

• "It'll be Jordan Zimmermann getting the start for the Nationals, with an interesting group of pitchers following him to the mound..." - "Nationals Pastime: Catching up with Micah Owings" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Beltway Baseball: Reader questions" - NatsInsider.com

• "When Nationals manager Davey Johnson is asked about Strasburg, he'll throw two words into the conversation. 'Doc Gooden.'" - "Unleashed at last, how good will Stephen Strasburg be?" Richard Justice, nationals.com: News

• "The Nationals can keep Bray in the minors until then, working with his mechanics and restoring his delivery." - "Bill Bray’s opt-out date with the Nationals" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• Today's Lineup vs St. Louis (via @NationalsPR):

• "[Gio Gonzalez] threw 42 pitches against the Astros, giving up three hits while striking out three, and then threw 23 more pitches in the bullpen." - "Gonzalez Has 3 Scoreless Innings in Nats Loss" - Dan Morrison, CBS DC

• "Gio Gonzalez barely utilized his off-speed pitches his last time out, with winds in excess of 20 mph in Jupiter forcing him to throw almost entirely fastballs in his outing against the Cardinals." - "Nationals Pastime: Hearing from Gonzalez after his three strong innings (Nats lose 4-2)" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "When [Denard] Span was traded to Washington in late November, [Ben] Revere called to wish him luck." - "Denard Span and Ben Revere, from friends to friendly ‘enemies’" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "'I love the challenge where expectations are high,' [Davey Johnson] said the other day as he sat in the dugout before a spring game." - "Nationals manager Davey Johnson has half-century of experience to draw from" - Hal Bodley, nationals.com: News

• "[Bryce] Harper, even at 20 and even in spring training, stands in opposition. He makes you keep your eye on him, always, especially if you are his first baseman." - "Bryce Harper tried to throw a runner out at first base from left field" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "Bryce Harper plays baseball like it's beer-league softball" - Mike Foss, USA Today Sports

• "'You saw the lineup the other day,' the manager said to one member of his beloved Washington media corps. 'If you didn't get any glimmer of hope, of what I was thinking …" - "Bryce Harper may bat third for Nationals" - Jayson Stark, Spring Training Blog - ESPN

• "[Bryce Harper is] also still just 20 years old and hitters that young simply don’t hit third very often." - "Bryce Harper batting third for Nationals would make history" - Aaron Gleeman, HardballTalk

• "Jayson Stark wrote yesterday that Davey Johnson thinks Bryce Harper may end up hitting third, which certainly speaks volumes about Harper, but the Nationals' best lineup would probably have Harper hitting second (and Jayson Werth hitting leadoff instead of Denard Span)." - "The sacrifice bunt isn't dead yet" - David Schoenfeld, SweetSpot Blog - ESPN

• "Last season, after joining the Nationals, Gio Gonzalez threw 3,198 pitches in the regular season, plus 209 more in the playoffs." - "Gio Gonzalez, Pitcher Abuse, and a Modern-Day Record" - Jeff Sullivan, FanGraphs Baseball

• NATSTOWN:

• "If you thought Bryce Harper's neon workout segment in his most recent UA commercial was weird, check out the latest and greatest Anthony Rendon offseason workout video..." - "Just another Anthony Rendon offseason workout video" - Nats Enquirer

• "NATS: Syracuse Chiefs Spring Training Schedule Announced" - Cheryl Nichols, District Sports Page

• "Win-mills: Dutch Grind Out Another Win Vs. Favorite" - The Zimmerman(n) Telegram

• "A Sneak Peek Into Spring Training- From A First Timer" - Kevin Eaton, Red Porch Report (Nationals Podcast and Blog)

• "Why I’d support getting rid of the DH" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "Debuting with the Senators in September of 1913, pitcher Jack Bentley would spend portions of the next 3 seasons in a Washington uniform." - "This Date in Washington Senators History" - Art Audley, D.C. Baseball History

• "Nats Drop 4-2 Decision For 2nd Straight Loss" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• "Baseball is so rational that if you gave me two numbers, just two Runs Scored and Runs Allowed I'd have like a 50% chance of getting a teams record within 2 games." - "Impenetrable rationality with apparent mystery" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "Get To Know a Nat: Dan Haren" - Nationals 101

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Marlins: "Dale Murphy said he’s in the same class of player as Bo Jackson." - "PHOENIX: Giancarlo Stanton’s prowess captivating U.S. teammates at World Baseball Classic" - Clark Spencer, Inside Baseball - MiamiHerald.com

Mets: "The Mets top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler got back on the mound for the first time since he was scratched from his second Grapefruit League start eight days ago because of a strained right oblique." - "NY Mets pitching prospect Zack Wheeler back pitching at full strength after missing second Grapefruit League start with strained right oblique" - Kristie Ackert, NY Daily News

Phillies: "Eight games into the most significant springtime test of his knees, Utley's body is responding well enough to enable him to make the kind of leaping plays that can save the team runs." - "Phillies defense shaping up" - David Murphy, Philadelphia Daily News

Braves: "An improved sinker and take-nothing-for-granted attitude are helping Julio Teheran have the type of spring the Braves hoped to get from their expected fifth starter" - "Braves' Teheran shows impressive sinker" - David O'Brien, www.ajc.com

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