In an article by FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal this morning, Washington Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson is asked the possibility discussed everywhere on Nats' sites in recent weeks of bringing 2011 1st Round pick Anthony Rendon up to take over at second for struggling infielder Danny Espinosa. Rendon started at second last night for Double-A Harrisburg, going 1 for 4 with a double to leave him with a .346/.482/.654 line so far in his second pro season in the Nationalns' system. So is he being groomed to take over at second, Mr. Rosenthal asked? Johnson's response:
"We like him – we like him a lot," Johnson said of Rendon. "But putting him at second at the major-league level, he’s not there yet. He’s not (playing second) specifically. He’s just occasionally going over there."
The start at second last night was just Rendon's fifth. He's made most of his starts at third, though the Nationals do have him playing around the infield this season. Johnson goes on to say that Steve Lombardozzi and Triple-A infielder Zach Walters are currently above Rendon on the depth chart at second behind Espinosa, but as the bow-tied FOXSports.com reporter notes, neither Espinosa, Lombardozzi or Walters are hitting right now, and Rendon is kind of crushing.
The way Davey Johnson was talking in an interview posted on MASNSports.com yesterday, however, it doesn't sound like the team is ready to give up on Danny Espinosa just yet, in spite of the fact that the infielder, who's playing with a torn rotator cuff, has a .163/.191/.296 line over the first 37 games and 141 plate appearances of the 2013 campaign. Espinosa, who is 1 for 24 on the current road trip, sat last night, but worked out with the Nationals' hitting coach before Monday night's game in AT&T Park in San Francisco.
"I think he's a little beat up," Johnson said in explaining the decision to sit him in the first game with the Giants, an 8-0 loss. "I wanted him to sit back again and relax a little bit. He had a little early session with [Rick] Eckstein, our hitting coach, and I think that went real well. I hate to just single him out, but he's certainly not doing the things he knows he's capable of doing. So it's frustrating for him and he feels a lot like he's letting everybody down, but he's trying to do his best and sometimes just getting away from it a little bit helps."
By "beat up," Johnson said, he meant that Espinosa was struggling mentally. "When you don't do the things you're capable of doing, it kind of beats you up," Johnson said. "It can wear on you. You expect to do things -- to keep improving and do them at a higher level and he's taken a step or so back, so, but he's still a tremendous player, still got tremendous talent and I haven't given up on him by any means."
"You have to have patience with young players," Johnson concluded, "And I know that our fans and ownership and everybody else, they expect us to play good and do well and believe me, of all people, I'm the one that expected the most and how you handle adversity is a large part of your success. And we'll get through this. Coming into this year I felt like Danny was a key guy that if he started doing the things that I know he's capable of doing, it could make the year a whole lot of fun."