Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell was asked in a recent chat with readers what to make of the fact that Danny Espinosa had cleared out his locker in the Washington Nationals' clubhouse after he was told that he would be put on the DL:
"Davey said, 'I love him. He thinks i hate him." Probably a tip there that Espinosa hated the move. It's not that the Nats wanted him to heal, it's that their stated position was that WHENEVER he was well, they expected him to report to AAA to work on his hitting.
In other words, he was sent to the minors. The Nats call it the DL, which is literally accurate. But if your team says, 'Get better. Then go to AAA,' you have been demoted."
Espinosa has been playing for the Syracuse Chiefs since June 13th, going 2 for 17 with 10 Ks so far for the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate. This afternoon, the Nationals officially announced that they had reinstated the 26-year-old infielder from the DL and optioned him to Triple-A where he'll continue to work on his swing and try to battle his way back up to the majors. The WaPost's Mr. Boswell also speculated as to why Espinosa might have been unhappy with the Nationals' decision:
"You can easily see why Espinosa didn't want to give up his second base job for any significant amount of time: Anthony Rendon. After a nervous 1-for-11 start in MLB, Rendon's hitting .367/.472/.467. While he's made five errors, and will make more at 2nd since it's a new position, he seems to be having a ball and has plenty of quickness, good hands to play second. His arm may not be as big as Espinosa's cannon, but it's special."
Since returning to the majors for the second time this year, after a stint filling in for an injured Ryan Zimmerman early this season, Rendon's been on fire at the plate. The 23-year-old, 2011 1st Round pick is 17 for 43 (.395/.435/.605) with six doubles and a home run in 11 games since returning to the Nats, and he now has a .338/.408/.485 line on the year in his rookie campaign.
On 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Mike Rizzo Show with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this morning, the Nats' GM was asked about both Rendon and Espinosa and what the future held for each player. "[Rendon] is certainly making a case to get a lot of playing time," Rizzo said, "He's a guy that we've had obviously high hopes for since we drafted him. We thought he would be a quick-to-big leagues guy. We gave him a major league contract right out of the draft, so, he's a big part of our plans, and I think that he's a guy that helps the lineup and is going to be around with us for a long time."
As for Espinosa, and what he needs to do in the minors, Rizzo said, "He's been reinstated from the disabled list and he's been optioned to Triple-A and will continue to play for the Syracuse club down there. He's working diligently on his stroke from both sides of the plate. He'll get ample at bats down there to kind of work through some things and when we feel that he's ready and capable to perform and to contribute on the big league level we will bring him up to the big leagues."
"Until then though," Rizzo said, "It's slow progress and he needs to redo a lot of things in his swing from both sides. And he's working extremely well and has got a very positive attitude down there. Tony Beasley, the manager, has told me that he's making some approachment adjustments and, again, he's a player that we love here. He's a great athlete and a great all-around player and if we can get him back to where he was those times in 2010 for that four and a half month stretch, then we've got ourselves what we thought we had, which is a really good all-around major league player."