Warning: The quotes contained in this article are not likely to please members of the #LOMBOLOBBY. Please direct all complaints elsewhere... or comment in the comments section.
Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo made his weekly appearance on the eponymous "Mike Rizzo Show" with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this morning. Inevitably, considering all the roster moves that happened yesterday, the subject of Danny Espinosa and the situation at second base came up. Espinosa was sent to the DL on Tuesday and word from the Nats is that he's headed back to see a hand specialist, and once he's cleared to play he'll likely be sent to Triple-A Syracuse to figure things out at the plate. "We felt it was time to get [Espinosa] healthy," the Nationals' general manager explained today. "Just because he wasn't helping -- performance-wise -- the team offensively and he certainly wasn't helping himself. So, we put him on the disabled list. He's going to see the wrist specialist and see if we can get him on the road to being healthy finally."
"[Espinosa] certainly was not playing offensively anywhere near his capabilities," Rizzo continued. "This guy is a guy who can hit upwards of 20 HRs and have 20 stolen bases and be a good hitter in the big leagues from both sides of the plate and he just wasn't doing it. And we believe that although he played through the injuries and they weren't hurting him, but they were certainly affecting him in some way, shape or form." In 44 games and 167 plate appearances this year, Espinosa had a .158/.193/.272 line with nine doubles and three home runs before he was sent to the DL.
The injury to his wrist, Rizzo said, suffered on a HBP that worsened after the original blow and was later revealed to be a fracture with a bone chip, was something Espinosa thought he could play through. "His performance showed me that he couldn't play through it," Rizzo said, "so we finally made sure that he's going to get healthy and then go and get his mechanics straightened out, come back and help the team like I know he can."
With Espinosa going down, Anthony Rendon, 23, was called up to the majors for the second time this year. The 2011 1st Round pick is expected to see time at second base after a refresher course at the position over the last few weeks in the minors. "We brought Rendon up," Rizzo said, "because he'll lengthen our lineup. He's a guy who can put the bat on the ball at the bottom of the lineup, drive in some runs and be a guy that can be a productive RBI guy for us at the lower part of the lineup. He's one of our best offensive players that we could substitute for Danny."
As for when Espinosa's ready to return for the DL? "I see him as an everyday impactful second baseman," the Nats' GM said, "both offensively and defensively. A guy that's hit 20 HRs and stole 20 bases in a single season. A Gold Glove defender at second base that's a gutty, gritty character player."
A little later in the show, a frustrated caller asked the Nationals' general manager, as many Nats fans have, what Steve Lombardozzi is going to have to do to prove he's an everyday player and FINALLY get himself the playing time he's earned with his hard work over the last few seasons.
"Well, I think that he'd have to get an opportunity to play every day and show that he can do it," Rizzo said, "and people forget that we're the organization that drafted him in the 16th Round, we've given him the best opportunity to play in the big leagues. He's a terrific young player. He has a specific skill set that we have really utilized and he's done a great job of it and if he's the best option as an everyday second baseman, he'll certainly be utilized there and we think that we've got a great player and we love having him around."
Anthony Rendon is expected to start at second base today in the second game of three with the New York Mets in D.C.