Espinosa impresses in first start

In his first major league start, Danny Espinosa showed the organization just a glimpse of his talent and potential. The highly touted September call-up went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs. One of those was a monster home run to deep right field. Bench coach John McLaren, filling in as manager during Jim Riggleman’s suspension, called it a “missile.” It came on a 1-1 pitch from Pirates starter Zach Duke, a changeup middle away.

“It’s one of those sweet feelings; you don’t even feel the ball when it comes off your bat,” Espinosa said. “I was just trying to be aggressive...and I got a good pitch to hit.”

McLaren, who watched Espinosa during the Arizona Fall League last season, is impressed with Espinosa’s opposite-field power, his range at second base, his throwing ability and his overall improvement over the past year.

“He’s just an endless worker, and you’re starting to see the results,” McLaren said. “He’s worked his way up to the big leagues in a short period of time. He’s changed positions and he’s picking it up quickly. He’s fun to watch...I’m excited about this kid. He’s a talent.”

Drafted as a shortstop, Espinosa will use September to work on defensive positioning at second base, turning double plays and getting acclimated to the big leagues, according to both Riggleman and McLaren. Prior to Friday’s game, he worked on turning double plays “better and more efficiently.”

He did have an opportunity to practice it in the bottom of the eighth when pinch hitter Delwyn Young hit a double play ball to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

“It’s a totally different feed, a totally different turn at second base,” Espinosa said, but added that it was also “very exciting.”

In his memorable first start, Espinosa impressed more than his coaches and teammates. His parents, sisters and girlfriend were also in attendance for his big night in Pittsburgh.

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