Former major league slugger-turned-major-league-manager Matt Williams went into some detail this past July when a reporter asked about switch-hitting Washington Nationals' infielder Danny Espinosa's continued struggles from the left side of the plate.
Espinosa, who started the year as the Nats' utility man, but was pressed into everyday action when third baseman Ryan Zimmerman suffered a fractured left thumb, had put a .196/.253/.307 line with six doubles, four home runs, eight walks and 75 Ks in 76 games and 194 plate appearances from the left side of the plate to that point and a .277/.365/.462 line, four doubles, two home runs, seven walks and 18 Ks in 74 PAs from the right side.
"I think his swing is a touch longer on the left hand side," Williams said. "I think that can contribute to a lot of things. Missing your pitch. Having to commit earlier on a swing than you would normally commit on the other side.
"I think he sees the ball fine from both sides. But I just think his left-handed swing is a little bit longer. It's really special when he puts the head of the bat on it because it's powerful. But it's a little bit longer than his right-handed stroke."
"He's always switch hit," Williams continued when asked about the possibility of Espinosa giving up switch hitting.
"He's always been a lefty vs righty, righty vs lefty. Coming up his left-handed swing was better than his right-handed swing. It's just a little bit long, a little bit longer than the right side."
At the time, however, Williams said there was no consideration being given to having Espinosa stop batting from the left side.
"I know he works on both sides of the plate," Williams explained.
"We want to get him certainly matchups right-handed if we can, just because he's had more success that way."
"He's continuing to work on both. That's not easy to do. He's working hard, continuing to, always does."
Espinosa finished the year with a .183/.241/.291 line, six doubles, five home runs, 10 walks and 97 Ks in 249 PAs from the left side and a .301/.374/.485 line with eight doubles, three home runs, eight walks and 25 Ks in 115 PAs from the right side.
As of last month, however, Espinosa told Washington Post writer James Wagner that he still wasn't planning on giving up hitting from the left side, though he remained open-minded.
"'I’ve told them that I am open minded to it,'" Espinosa said, "'but they’ve made no definite decisions about what I’m going to do.'"
Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo, however, reportedly told fans at a season ticket holder event this past weekend that he and Espinosa discussed hitting exclusively from the right side and the infielder would give up switch-hitting.
Espinosa confirmed the fact today, as reported by* MLB.com's Bill Ladson on Twitter:
#Nats 2B Danny Espinosa has decided to give up switch hitting for the time being and hit right-handed exclusively during Spring Training.— William Ladson (@washingnats) February 10, 2015
[ed. note: " * = I misinterpreted the wording of the tweet above to mean Espinosa had confirmed the fact that he would give up switch-hitting. In his article on Espinosa, Ladson quotes "two baseball sources" who confirm that Espinosa will hit 'right-handed exclusively' for the 'time being'... Espinosa did not confirm the fact."]
In his five-year major league career, Espinosa has a .213/.283/.362 line with 56 of 93 doubles and 40 of his 55 home runs in 1,450 PAs from the left side and a .271/.343/.460 line in 509 PAs against left-handers as a right-handed hitter.