An hour or so before the Nats' switch-hitting infielder, Danny Espinosa, introduced himself to the DC Faithful in his first game in front of the Nats Park crowd with a 4 for 5, 6 RBI performance in which the 23-year-old '08 3rd Round pick collected a solo HR and a truly grand slam, the former Long Beach State Dirtbags' shortstop took a few minutes to answer some questions I had about his transition from short to second, his ability to hit to the opposite field from both sides of the plate and his experience coming up through the Nats' organization since he first signed for a $525,000 dollar signing bonus with Washington back on August 11th 2008. I started the interview asking Espinosa about switching positions from short to second at the Major League level:
Danny Espinosa: "Well, playing in Syracuse I got comfortable [at second]. And they always, in Spring Training, they make you work back and forth [between second and short] just in case something happens or there is a move, but before that I played one game in Spring Training in a big league game and played a couple years before that in college, I played a couple games in summer ball, but that's about it."
Federal Baseball (FB): Do you have a preference, playing either short or second if it was up to you?
Danny Espinosa: "Not really, I mean, being in the big leagues is being in the big leagues, I enjoy it. Playing second base is fun, playing shortstop is fun. I have a good time playing with [Ian] Desmond, [Adam] Kennedy's taught me a lot, this is going to be my first [game playing] with Kennedy, but they've both been so much help, I feel great at both positions. I'm not too concerned."
FB: Is there any added pressure learning a new position while getting used to the majors?
Danny Espinosa: "There was a little bit [of additional pressure], but I felt comfortable out there. The guys made me feel comfortable, they worked with me a lot. When I was in Triple-A, my coaches worked with me a lot, and made sure I was alright, so I felt fine out there."
FB: I've read about you and Ian Desmond working a lot before games to get used to each other, what's the first thing you have to get used to or figure out about a new middle infield partner?
Danny Espinosa: "You just have to play with them and learn where their feeds are, how firm their feeds are, where they're throwing the ball from, and the same, he has to see how firm I'm going to throw the ball and where the range is, you kind of see where each other's range is at, so just, you know what balls can be taken..."
FB: You've already demonstrated an ability to hit to the opposite field, is that something that's come naturally to you? Because Nats fans are used to seeing that after people have worked with Nats' Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein for a while? Is that Eckstein's influence, or something you've always done?
Danny Espinosa: "It's something they always preach. You gotta use the whole field. I'm not necessarily sitting there trying to hit the ball [to the opposite field], but I'm not going to try to hook every single ball, I'm just trying to drive something hard up the middle and if my barrel's a little late, and I drive it to opposite field I drive it to the opposite field."
After hitting 2 HR's Monday afternoon, a solo blast to left from the left side of the plate and a Grand Slam to right for his first multi-HR game, Espinosa, in his first 5 games, is now 9 for 16 (.563) with a .563 OBP, 1.313 SLG (1.875 OPS), 3 doubles, 3 HR's and 10 RBI's...