JUPITER, Fla. - Danny Espinosa ripped a solo home run to right field in today's win over the Cardinals, giving him his first homer and first RBI this spring.
But the Nationals second baseman was actually more pleased with his single to left off Cardinals closer Jason Motte in the top of the ninth inning than he was with the longball earlier in the game.
"That was a two-strike count," Espinosa said. "I stuck with my approach I try to stay with all the time. I was able just to really put that ball in play. That's what I want to do with two strikes. I don't want to try to do too much. I was able to get a pitch I stayed on a little bit and just kind of soft serve it out to left field."
We've talked about Espinosa's struggles from the left side of the plate this spring - especially at home - but he has been seeing the ball well from the right side, hitting .381 against left-handed pitching this spring.
The only problem is that Espinosa has only gotten 21 spring training at-bats from the right side, compared to 50 from the left side.
"It's a little difficult," Espinosa said. "I've got to get some right-handed at-bats. I typically don't. Guys are beginning spring with three innings, one inning. To be able to get three at-bats today against a left-hander felt really good. Just to see the ball right-handed. I got to see a few early in spring right-handed, but I wasn't feeling good. I felt jumpy. To get three at-bats in a row, I felt real good."
Espinosa's numbers this spring haven't been all that stellar (he's hitting just .239, has an on-base percentage of .299 and is slugging .310), but he says he feels like he's in a good place entering the season. His teammates seem to agree.
"I think he's worked a lot," teammate Mark DeRosa said. "I don't put too much stock in numbers. I think he's worked hard to correct some flaws in his swing and it's only going to benefit him going forward. Once the bell rings on opening day, that's forgotten about and more result-based. But I think he's going to have a big year."
I mentioned that Henry Rodriguez threw a scoreless inning in relief today, but he wasn't the only one to turn in a quality performance out of the 'pen.
Lefty Tom Gorzelanny, who has struggled at times this spring, threw two perfect innings, lowing his spring training ERA to 8.10. Ryan Mattheus also threw a shutout inning, allowing a hit and a walk in the ninth, but striking out two on his way to his first save of spring.
Mattheus is currently in the running for the last spot in the Nats' bullpen.
DeRosa went 2-for-4 with an RBI today, putting his spring average at .438 and his on-base percentage at a ridiculous .581.
Yeah, the 37-year-old has been on fire this spring.