UPDATE: 8/21/15 - 2:47 PM EDT: The Washington Nationals have called Trea Turner up to the majors this afternoon:
[ed. note - "Here's what we wrote yesterday 'subtly' suggesting that there were signs this move might be coming. And no, we are not saying, 'We told you so!' We don't say that, and we don't like people who do..."]:
Danny Espinosa played a total of seven games at second base at Triple-A Syracuse in 2010 before Washington's 2008 3rd Round pick was called up to play second base for the Nationals that September.
A few days after his major league debut, he talked about making the transition from short to second.
He was drafted out of Cal State Long Beach as a shortstop and remained one until he reached the Nationals' top minor league affiliate.
"Playing in Syracuse I got comfortable [at second]," Espinosa said.
"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."
Mike Rizzo talked to Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell that summer, when Espinosa was rumored to be coming up for the first time, about why he had suddenly started playing a new position.
Hint/Spoiler: Ian Desmond was playing short in D.C.
"'Our stat people and our scouts both think that Desmond now has the best range of any shortstop in baseball, even better than [Troy] Tulowitzki' in [Colorado]," Rizzo was quoted explaining.
"For me, it's going to take a lot to get that kind of range off of shortstop."
Espinosa came up in September and got in a month of experience, with two starts at short, and the rest at second.
Three years later, in 2013, with Espinosa struggling following a number of injuries, there was a need at second base at the major league level.
Anthony Rendon, referred to by Rizzo as the "most accomplished hitter in the draft" and a potential "Gold Glove type of defender" at third when he was drafted 6th overall in 2011, who played third exclusively in 2011-12, and who started at third after making his debut in the majors when Ryan Zimmerman was injured in late April and early May, began playing second, first with the Nationals' Double-A and then their Triple-A affiliate.
Rendon began getting reps at second (where he'd worked out one-on-one at times with Davey Johnson previously in Spring Training), while both Espinosa and Steve Lombadozzi struggled to produce in the majors, leading FOX's Ken Rosenthal to ask the Nationals' veteran manager if Rendon was being groomed to take a shot?
"Davey Johnson said that the team is not yet considering such a plan," Rosenthal wrote.
"We like him – we like him a lot," Johnson explained. "But putting him at second at the major-league level, he’s not there yet. He’s not (playing second) specifically. He’s just occasionally going over there."
Johnson, Rosenthal noted, said, "that both Lombardozzi and Triple A infielder Zach Walters rank ahead of [Rendon] as candidates to replace Espinosa, if the Nats were to make such a move."
"Our development process for him hasn't changed, our calendar, our philosophy for him hasn't changed for him since Spring Training," Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C. in late May.
"We're planning on playing him in Double-A several games at third base and then filter in some games at second base and at shortstop."
That was on May 22nd.
On June 5th, Rendon was called up to play second with Espinosa landing on the DL.
"We brought Rendon up, because he'll lengthen our lineup," Rizzo said, in another interview on the Nats' flagship station.
"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."
Rendon played second (82 games), short (four games) and third (15) in 2013, but with Zimmerman hurt again last season, he played predominantly third (134 games), while spending time at second (28 games).
With Zimmerman at first at the start this season, Rendon was set to shift back to third (with Yunel Escobar at second) until he hurt his knee, spraining his MCL in Spring Training.
When Escobar settled into a new spot at third in his absence, the decision was made to have Rendon move over to second base when he returned to the majors.
An oblique injury suffered as he rehabbed his knee led to the start of his 2015 campaign being delayed until June.
A left quad issue landed him on the DL again later that month.
Since returning from his second stint on the Disabled List, Rendon has struggled offensively, putting up a .208/287/.286 line over 87 plate appearances.
Espinosa, in the midst of a career resurgence, and a solid season in D.C., has started at second in each of the last two games.
Nationals' skipper Matt Williams told reporters, as reported by Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes, that Rendon was healthy, and, "working on syncing up his timing at the plate," but he decided to stick with Espinosa for a second straight game on Wednesday night after a big offensive game all-around for the Nats on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, down in Triple-A Syracuse, top infield prospect Trea Turner made his first professional start at second base on Tuesday night, after playing short exclusively in the organization after he was acquired officially in June.
Rizzo had previously shot down the idea (put forth by former GM Jim Bowden) of Turner taking over at short (by August 1st as Bowden said) when Ian Desmond was struggling, telling 106.7 the FAN's Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier that Desmond was and would be the Nationals' shortstop.
"He's one of the best shortstops in the game, a three-time Silver Slugger," Rizzo said.
"I don't see anybody supplanting him as our shortstop unless he gets injured or something like that and we've got quite a few options at shortstop that we could turn to internally and several of them are on the big league club right now.
"You've got Yuni Escobar, who's been a shortstop his whole career. Danny Espinosa can handle the job. Wilmer Difo, who's a guy who's a prospect of ours that can play great defense, so highly unlikely."
But what about at second, now? Desmond is suddenly hitting and getting on base in the second half.
Rendon is struggling at the plate and the Nationals are hovering above .500... is Turner playing second to prepare him should the Nationals determine there's a need at second base?
Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes asked Rizzo why Turner was playing second at Triple-A?
"We’re just trying to get him some versatility," Rizzo told the WaPost on Wednesday.
"We’re just trying to get him some exposure at both positions in case when he gets to the big leagues, he can play second as well as short."
Rizzo went on to say that they weren't sure Turner would be a September call-up, a move that would require the Nats to clear a spot on the 40-Man roster, though they liked what they saw from his as a shortstop:
"He’s got all the skills you want to have as a shortstop. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t play second base as well, too, but we see him as a guy that has the opportunity to play shortstop. That’s what we think."
If the Nationals determined, however, that the 22-year-old Turner, (who -- after a 4 for 6 night on Wednesday and his second straight start at second -- has a .314/.353/.431 line in 48 games and 188 ABs at Triple-A), was a better option right now on a team built for a postseason run that's struggling to stay in the race in the division?