Before tonight's game the Washington Nationals announced that Danny Espinosa had been playing with a fracture in his right wrist since Atlanta Braves' lefty Paul Maholm hit the Nats' infielder in a mid-April matchup in the nation's capital. Espinosa had X-rays done then, but no break was revealed. When the issue continued to bother the infielder during the Nationals' recently-completed road trip, the 26-year-old Espinosa took another trip to the doctor, this time seeing a Baltimore, Maryland-based hand specialist who diagnosed the injury announced today.
"I looked at the films and [Espinosa] has a little chip floating around in his wrist," Johnson told reporters this afternoon. "The report I got from the trainers is if he can stand the pain it shouldn't get any worse. Knowing how that is, I called the doctor and said, 'Well, what we want to do is -- what's always best for the team is what's always best for the player.' And I wanted to know if that chip would move around and get exacerbated and cause more [of a] problem, or what was the real problem in there and the problem, is it's a broken bone."
The Nats' skipper said he would have Espinosa rest and see if he can get by the pain and stay in the lineup. After tonight's game, with the Nats' bench short, the team announced that they had designated 31-year-old right-hander Yunesky Maya for assignment after calling him up this past weekend.
Taking Maya's place will be 24-year-old, Nats' '09 2nd Round pick Jeff Kobernus, a utility infielder who has played second, third, left and center at Triple-A Syracuse early this season. Kobernus was left unprotected and selected by the Detroit Tigers in this past winter's Rule 5 Draft, but when he didn't make the Tigers' opening day roster, he was returned to the Nationals' organization.
In 43 games and 193 plate appearances this season for the Syracuse Chiefs, Kobernus has a .333/.378/.420 line with eight doubles, two triples, a home run and 21 stolen bases in 27 attempts.
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Nats' GM Mike Rizzo offered the following scouting report on Kobernus during his weekly appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s eponymously-titled "Mike Rizzo Show" this past Wednesday:
"Kobernus is a speedy utility-type of player that plays second, third, short and the outfield for us. He’s a terrific contact bat. He can steal you a base when you have to. He’s a plus-plus runner and kind of an energy-type of exciting type of player."
Maya, who signed a 4-year/$8M dollar deal as an international free agent in 2010, surrendered a walk-off home run in this past Saturday's loss to the San Francisco Giants. In 16 games, 10 starts and 59.0 IP in the majors, the right-hander is (1-5) with a 5.80 ERA. Maya's (1-4) with a 5.07 ERA in eight starts and 49.2 IP so far this season.
Kobernus, drafted out of the University of California at Berkeley, will be making his MLB debut when he first gets in a game with the Nationals who drafted him with the first pick of the second round of the 2009 Draft.