Nats playing it careful with Espinosa, plus Ankiel update

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Danny Espinosa did, in fact, undergo a concussion test after yesterday's ballgame, but the Nationals' second baseman checked out OK after taking an elbow to the head in the ninth inning last night.

"I'm 100 percent fine," Espinosa said.

The concussion test consisted of various balance exercises and is designed to check for nausea or other symptoms of a brain injury.

Espinosa said he fell asleep fine last night and woke up feeling as if the collision with Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada had never happened.

Manager Davey Johnson said despite Espinosa's pleas to be inserted into the lineup, he opted to play things safe today and give the second baseman the day off. Steve Lombardozzi will get his first start of the season in Espinosa's stead.

"With all this going on, he got hit pretty good and I said, 'I don't want him running out there with a stiff neck or being woozy,'" Johnson said. "As you know from last year, I hardly ever took him out of the game. But I'm just going to be cautious. And I've got a young kid here, I can't sit him too long in Lombo. But it's more just being on the cautious side with Espi. With everything else going on, I said, 'Sit over here with me.'"

Meanwhile, Rick Ankiel went yard again yesterday for Single-A Hagerstown, and appears to be closing in on a return from a quad injury.

"Ank's doing great. He played nine innings, ran around, hit another home run," Johnson said. "He said he felt fine."

Johnson said he expects for Ankiel to be ready to play center for the Nats on Friday, "But I'm not betting the house on it the way things are going."

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