Danny Espinosa hasn't gotten off to a good start this spring. Well, that's an understatement. He hasn't really started at all.
Espinosa went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts on Sunday in the Washington Nationals 4-4 tie (!) with the St. Louis Cardinals. For the spring, he's 0 for 14 with seven strikeouts and one walk. Caveat about it being early and over the course of 14 at bats during a season anyone can strikeout seven times.
We're talking about a player whose primary deficiency in his game is striking out.
Last year, Espinosa enjoyed somewhat of a "bounceback" year, hitting .240/.311/.409 in 412 plate appearances with 13 homers, playing his usual steady defense at second, and sometimes shortstop, third base or even left field. He still struck out in over 25 percent of his at bats.
Those numbers are right in line with his 2011-12 seasons before he got hurt and played through it, opted against surgery so as not to miss spring training the next season, then broke his wrist and hid it from the team for over a month, got sent down to the minors, and ended up losing what should have been two productive years in his prime.
Now, entering his age 29 season, Espinosa has what he's always wanted staring at him: the Nats' staring shortstop job. It's always been blocked by Ian Desmond, but with Desi off playing left field for the Texas Rangers, the job is there for him.
The Nats would like nothing more than to have Espinosa win the job out of spring training so they can send Trea Turner back to AAA for two months so as not to start the clock ticking on him.
But right now, the way Espinosa is playing, it could very well end up $3 million dollar man Stephen Drew starting at shortstop on opening day, with Turner in chilly Syracuse and Espinosa on the bench in his familiar utility role.
I know... it's a handful of at bats in spring training. But Espinosa has always been a high K% guy anyway. His career rate is 25.7 percent, well above MLB average of 19.6 percent.
Maybe in a couple of weeks Espinosa will be tearing the cover off the ball and this will have all been forgotten about. But for now, it's probably the biggest area of concern for the Nats.
Well, that and if Ryan Zimmerman's foot can handle the rigors of playing first base 4-5 times a week. But that's a story for another day.