Johnson says Espinosa might be “over trying” to get out of slump

Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa went 0-for-4 Saturday in Washington’s 9-3 setback to the Houston Astros, striking out his last three at-bats.

He has gone 0-for-his-last-11 at the plate, and has struck out 11 of his last 15 at-bats.

His average has dipped to .226 but that does not bother Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who said Espinosa is working harder than anyone he has seen to figure out what is going wrong in the batter’s box.

“Well, he is so driven,” Johnson said. “He is over trying. He is just trying to do too much. I kind of like to let them play there way out of it. Then again, maybe I should sit him down.

“He is too good a talent. I have been talking to him recently. He takes great care of his body. He is tremendously strong. He watches too many videos. He studies the game. He is a special player.”

Johnson wwent so far as to compare Espinosa’s recent plight with one of a very famous and successful power hitter.

“I saw it early in Mike Schmidt’s career,” Johnson said. “I am not comparing him to a home run hitter like (Schmidt), but (Schmidt) was driven like that, obsessively, looking at everything. (Schmidt) would try to do everything he could do to be better, until he learned to step back and not try to do too much. That is what (Espinosa) is going through.”

Johnson said he doesn’t believe that it is a case of Espinosa getting tired. He said the Long Beach State product is in great shape and “pound for pound maybe the strongest player in the league.”

“He wants it,” Johnson said. “He will drive himself to be a heck of a player. Sometimes, early on you can start expanding the zone. You think too much, you worry too much. I need to get him to relax.”

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