Danny Espinosa adjusting to new set of challenges

Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa wants to get going at the plate.

Manager Davey Johnson wants his young infielder to do so as well, and sees Espinosa making progress.

Shortstop Ian Desmond said it earlier this season when asked why he likes Johnson as a manager. One of the reasons he spotlighted was how Johnson sticks with you, even when you go through a rough spell.

“I could go 0-for-5 and he wouldn’t pull me. I knew I was going to be in the lineup the next day,” Desmond said.

Johnson has maintained his confidence in his players. When Henry Rodriguez had a rough outing against the Dodgers, Johnson did not back down on keeping him as the closer.

With Espinosa going through 0-for-17 slump, Johnson keeps him in the lineup, handing him a bat every day as if to say, ‘Go get them!’

“Yeah, (Espinosa) is still in a good frame of mind,” Johnson said. “He has got a lot of pride. Sometimes, I think he gets in between the fastball and the breaking ball. Like all young hitters, they start looking for too much, start trying to do too much. He will be all right.”

Although Espinosa did not get a hit in Wednesday’s game against the Diamondbacks, he did draw a walk and stole a base. He said patience has played a part in improving his approach.

“They are not giving me pitches early in the count and that is my fault because I have been overly aggressive,” Espinosa said. “I am putting myself in that situation. I think it is a matter of not saying I need to take every first pitch but being selectively aggressive, getting my pitch on the first pitch, if I want to swing first pitch, and driving it.”

Johnson said the key for Espinosa is to realize that in his second season, opponents have now adjusted away from his strengths and gone after ways they believe they can get him out.

“If you get locked in on going (opposite field), and if that is where you are hurting clubs, they have films just like we have films,” Johnson said. “They go back all through last year where they got hurt and they make adjustments.

“That is what you have to do as a player in the big leagues. They are going to try to find your weaknesses and they when they do, they are going to come after you. You have to realize they have changed their approach to you and you have to change your approach to them. That is the tough part of getting established on the major league level.”

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