Skipper pegged Lombardozzi over Espinosa as starter at second base

PHILADELPHIA - Recently, Davey Johnson has seen Danny Espinosa trying to do a bit too much. In an effort to nip that in the bud, Johnson is giving his second baseman the night off tonight.

“I think he’s been pressing a little bit lately,” Johnson said. “He’s been swinging awfully hard and (I) just wanted to let him sit back and relax a little bit.”

That, combined with the fact that Espinosa is 3-for-16 with four strikeouts in his career against Kyle Kendrick, who is starting tonight for the Phillies, led Johnson to switch his lineup up a bit.

The decision, Johnson says, has nothing to do with the bone bruise in Espinosa’s left shoulder, which led to the second baseman getting a cortisone shot last Monday.

“I just thought he was over-swinging a little bit,” Johnson said.

Espinosa, who insists he feels “100 percent,” wasn’t thrilled earlier this afternoon when he saw his name missing from Johnson’s starting lineup.

“It’s up to him,” a frustrated Espinosa said. “Go ask him the reasoning. I’d like to know, too.”

Espinosa did strikeout three times last night, but he also drew a walk in his first at-bat. Since getting the cortisone shot, Espinosa is 8-for-23 (.348) with three doubles, two RBIs and four walks.

While he wants to give Espinosa a night off, Johnson also says he wants to give a rare start to Steve Lombardozzi, who has started only three games in the last month.

There was almost a two-month stretch in the middle of this season in which Lombardozzi was in the lineup every day. He got starts in left field when both Michael Morse and Jayson Werth were battling injuries, and then played second when Espinosa was filling in for an injured Ian Desmond at shortstop.

“He’s been a mainstay on this club, too. I don’t want to completely shut him down,” Johnson said. “One of the guys that I’ve really slighted the most has been Lombo. He was an everyday player and playing great, probably playing as good as anybody.

“If memory serves me correctly, he was almost right at .300 and I just shut him down and started playing the other guys when we got healthy. Morse came back, he went in the outfield, Werth came back, he got healthy. So playing time just diminished. And he can play, so we’ll keep him in there.”

Johnson has his reasons for the lineup switch, but that doesn’t mean Espinosa will agree with the decision to give him a night off.

“I know he’s an intense competitor,” Johnson said. “I’m sure he thinks I’m an idiot. Maybe I am. But that’s what I’m doing.”

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