We now know that Danny Espinosa has been playing for the last five-plus weeks with a broken right wrist.
Espinosa says that he won’t use the injury as an excuse for his poor hitting this season - he has a .163/.196/.291 slash line over 39 games played - but he did say that the wrist felt “stiff” when he was hitting left-handed and it affecting him trying to get his top hand to the ball when hitting right-handed.
With Espinosa taking at least 2-3 days to rest the wrist, the Nationals will use Steve Lombardozzi as their starting second baseman. If Espinosa needs to land on the disabled list, then Lombardozzi would get the bulk of the starts for the time being, as well.
Because Espinosa is unavailable and the Nationals are carrying eight relievers after the promotions of Fernando Abad and Yunesky Maya, manager Davey Johnson has just three bench players at his disposal for tonight’s game.
That won’t be the case for long.
The Nationals will make a roster move tomorrow, sending down a reliever (likely Maya) and bringing up another position player that can add depth and another option off the bench.
Johnson said that Anthony Rendon, the Nationals’ top prospect who made his major league debut last month, is not an option to be called up this time around. Rendon is out of Double-A Harrisburg’s lineup tonight, but that’s due to a wisdom teeth procedure, according to a Nats official, and Rendon’s absence is not related to the Nats’ upcoming roster moves.
The player that is called up will come from Triple-A Syracuse, Johnson said, which leaves infielders Jeff Kobernus and Will Rhymes as the two possible options. Kobernus is out of Syracuse’s lineup tonight, which almost certainly means he’s the choice.
Kobernus has gotten off to a really hot start to this season offensively, batting .333 with a .378 on-base percentage in 43 games. The 24-year-old, who was a Rule 5 pick by the Tigers and then returned to the Nats toward the end of spring training, is a career infielder who has also gotten time in the outfield this season.
Rhymes, who has played 130 games in the big leagues with the Tigers and Rays over the last three seasons, is batting .299 with a .366 on-base percentage this season.
Neither player is on the Nats’ 40-man roster, so the organization would need to drop one player from the 40-man if they were to activate either Kobernus or Rhymes. One option there is to transfer Christian Garcia to the 60-day DL.
Garcia has been rehabbing a forearm injury since February.