Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa continues to play well in winter ball in Puerto Rico and has altered his batting stance a little to shorten his swing so he can make more contact and get on base.
“I have made a little bit of an adjustment. The first three games (here in Puerto Rico) I had four or five strikeouts. That was a point that manager Jim Riggleman had really touched on is that they would really like to see those (strikeout numbers) go down. He said he would be willing to give up so many home runs and have me instead put the ball in play more and get on base more.”
Espinosa says he worked on changing how much extends his front leg when he prepared to swing at the pitch and the results have been very good.
“I modified my leg kick so it is not so big, and I am not jumping at the ball so much. I am more so making it more simple. I am getting my foot down just a little bit early so I am seeing the ball better.
“Since then, I have only had just one strikeout in the last four games.”
Espinosa says he has worked on this leg kick modification since late last season.
“It is something I tried last year in the fall league and I did really well with it,” Espinosa said. “I didn’t start doing it in the fall league until halfway through the year and I got really good results out of it.
“Even though my strikeout total looked high in the fall league ,they were all early and I had not made the adjustment yet.
“If I put my foot down a little bit earlier, I knew it would cut my strikeouts down. It might not be as much power, but I don’t think they want me to go up there and try to hit home runs.”
Espinosa is okay with not trying to swing for the fences every at bat and feels this is the right time in his career to make this kind of alteration to his approach.
“The more important thing for me, especially being young, is hitting for average and being on base,” Espinosa said.
“I am fine with being a higher average guy. I would love to be a higher average guy. Obviously, the home runs are fun, but there are other guys in our lineup that can do that.
“I think what they want me to do is be on base and steal bases so those guys have the opportunity to drive me in, and not go up there and be a lead-off guy hitting solo shots and not being on base for the 3-4-5 guys behind me.”
Espinosa says he is enjoying his time in winter ball and is a housemate of Nationals prospect Chris Marrero.
The release of Adam Kennedy has not affected Espinosa’s preparation either, and he doesn’t feel the second baseman’s job is his just by showing up. He knows he must work for the opportunity, just like he did in 2010 to earn his first major league splash.
Hear more from Espinosa and Marrero at nationals360.com and during Saturday’s show at 7:00 a.m. on Federal News Radio, 1500 AM.