Nationals 2B Espinosa's new approach could pay off
VIERA, Fla. (AP) — Washington manager Davey Johnson likes the new approach second baseman Danny Espinosa is taking at the plate.
"I think he's right there," Johnson said. "I like where he's at. He's more direct. He's got a shorter stroke, which is good. You can tell he feels healthy."
The 25-year-old Espinosa, in fact, said he hasn't felt this good in a long time, even though he will be playing this season with a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder.
Espinosa, played with the shoulder injury through September and the playoffs, but not discover the severity of it until the offseason. In a joint decision between the player, the Nationals and Dr. Lewis Yocum, the decision was made to rehabilitate the injury instead of opting for surgery.
Yocum "said it's not 100 percent torn, but it's probably 75 percent torn," Espinosa said. "Can it really get worse? It's already torn, to me. He said, 'I want to rehab first, and if the rehab doesn't work, we'll have surgery.' Well, the rehab has worked. I feel unbelievable."
Part of his rehabilitation includes strengthening the protective muscles around the rotator cuff by repeatedly lifting light weights. The workout takes between 60-90 minutes and is done 2-3 times a week.
Both Johnson and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo have said they're not concerned about Espinosa playing with a torn rotator cuff, with Rizzo adding the second baseman has passed all of his stress and strength tests.
Espinosa hit a career-high .247 last season with 17 home runs, 55 RBIs . and a whopping 189 strikeouts.
His injury could have led to the high number of strikeouts, but Espinosa dismisses the possibility.
"I'm not going to blame any failure on my shoulder," he said. "I'm not one to make an excuse. I never have. I didn't know how badly it was hurt. I was just told it was a bruise. . I have no clue how much it truly affected me."
Ever since Johnson took over as the Nationals manager in 2011, he has been telling Espinosa not to muscle the ball. Espinosa said there were times during batting practice where he would get into a rhythm of trying to hit the ball hard instead of working on his swing.
That has all changed now. Though he has yet to take his approach into an actual game, Espinosa is a lot happier with his swing.
"I'm just trying to get my foot down and use my hands, hit hard ground balls and line drives in batting practice," he said. "If I clip it the right way, it'll carry."
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