Second baseman Danny Espinosa, who has not played since May 22 while rehabilitating what was discovered to be a broken right wrist, took batting practice and participated in fielding drills before Tuesday's game against the Orioles. If all goes well, and he experiences no setbacks, Espinosa expects to be cleared to play Wednesday when the interleague series moves to Baltimore for two games.
"It's calmed down, it feels good," he said before taking BP. "I think the doctor will be here in a little bit, so he'll be able to do whatever tests he wants to do to see. The pain, the swelling's down from where it had been. Is it going to be 100 percent? I think we all know it's not going to be 100 percent for the rest of the year because there's no casting or surgery they can do to make it 100 percent. It's just a time thing. ... This feels better than what it did."
Espinosa told manager Davey Johnson he was available to pinch-hit Monday afternoon, and he kept his spikes on and glove ready in case he was needed as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement.
"If I go through another day of hitting and it's not sore after I hit again, and I show up tomorrow and it's not sore, then I'll be ready," he said.
The injury was traced back to what was originally thought to be a bone bruise after Espinosa was hit by a pitch from Atlanta's Paul Maholm on April 14. Last week, when his wrist pain continues, further examinations revealed a floating bone chip and a wrist fracture.
Rest was prescribed, but surgery was not an option. So Espinosa has been in wait-and-see mode, monitoring how much pain the inflammation and swelling have caused.
"The inflammation is causing so much pressure on that bone that that's what's causing the pain," he explained.
He's passed grip tests for strength, but hasn't been able to shake the stiffness associated with the injury.
"When you're swinging and you feel a constant clicking in your wrist, you kind of think, 'What's going on? I've never had clicking in my wrist before,' " Espinosa said.
Johnson has been playing with a short bench - considering the injuries to Espinosa and outfielder Bryce Harper - and is eager to get the second baseman back.
"He's going to work out today and if he comes through all right, he can play tomorrow," Johnson said.
As for the Nationals' other walking wounded, Johnson said left-hander Ross Detwiler, on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 16 with an oblique strain, is progressing and could be activated to take his regular turn in the rotation Sunday at Atlanta.
Harper, who missed his second straight game Tuesday with bursitis in his left knee, has left swelling in his knee, Johnson said. The manager had hoped Harper could serve as a designated hitter when the series shifts to Camden Yards, but has readjusted his thinking and may rest his slugger another day or two.
"The swelling's down a little bit, but I was probably being optimistic saying that he could DH in Baltimore," Johnson said.
Right fielder Jayson Werth was scheduled to run Tuesday and Johnson said if Werth experiences no issues with his tight right hamstring, he could go out on a minor league rehabilitation assignment, perhaps as early as Wednesday. Werth has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 11.
Update: The start of tonight's game will be delayed by rain. We're not expecting a long delay, but it's pouring right now at Nationals Park. Stay tuned to MASNsports.com and MASN HD for updates on the delay.
Update II: The grounds crew is in the process of removing the tarp, and it's stopped raining. We're aiming for an 8:25 p.m. start, according to Nationals officials. MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko will be taking over your game coverage for the duration.