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Espinosa Working on Cutting Strikeouts

Shortstop Danny Espinosa knows exactly what he needs to work on during the six-week Arizona Fall League: cutting down on strikeouts.

"At end of the season I went back to my old hitting style and things worked out well," Espinosa said. "My strikeouts were down, which was a big goal of mine. I feel like I finished really well and I finished strong. I wanted to show them that my body didn't wear down. I'm confident where I'm at right now."

Espinosa, who struck out 129 times last season at Class A Potomac, said the change was partly in his stance, but mostly in his approach.

"We were just trying to be more aggressive to the ball. Stay more upright in my stance but it was mostly trying to stay short to the ball and stay aggressive. Sometimes I'd get a long swing and I'd miss pitches, pitches I should be driving. It was really just trying to stay short with my swing."

After the AFL season ends, Espinosa wiill head home to California, where he'll work out in Mission Viejo. He said the Nationals have given him an offseason training program that he'll follow -- to a point. He doesn't want to get too bulky via lifting.

"I get off that a little bit because I do more specific to what I need as far as, I want to stay light and I want to stay quick cause at my position I can't afford to ever gain any weight and I want to stay where I'm at," he said. "I go off the [weight] training a little bit but as far as hitting and stuff they tell us what we need to get done."

Espinosa, who had one fielding gaffe in Tuesday's opener -- behind fellow Nat Josh Wilkie -- said he'll also work on his fielding.

"He's a great looking kid," said Desert Dogs coach Moe Hill, who is a field manager for the Orioles at Class AA Bowie. "I've never seen him other than here but gosh, everything I've heard about him is very good. He gets out, he works, he gets his work in.

"He looks like he's got a game plan when he comes to the ballpark. That makes a big difference. You can see it in his face: 'I have a game plan.' He's got a chance, if he takes that into the field or takes that into a championship season, he's got a chance to move fast [through the organization]."

By Tracee Hamilton  |  October 16, 2009; 1:35 PM ET
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Next: Play-By-Play of Strasburg's AFL Debut


And now Tracee head to the airport I guess.

Posted by: estuartj | October 16, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

No, Tracee, don't leave. It's just getting good!! =(

Posted by: NatsNut | October 16, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Wait... Come baaaack... :-(

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 16, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the crowd. Sigh...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 16, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for the great posts!

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | October 16, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Hah! Its really great to see Orioles types drooling over Nats prospects. Yeah baby.

Posted by: periculum | October 16, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if his comments mean that the Nats don't give their players individually tailored offseason training programs, or whether he just thinks he knows better than professional trainers? Hmm.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | October 16, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

cheeseburger, nice comment a couple posts ago. I've been trying to express how impressed I am with Rizzo so far, but you said it way better than I. Especially the part about the drinking pals. Well said. Hope you don't mind my carrying forward for you. =)

I am really impressed with the FO personnel Rizzo is bringing in to work with. He is bringing in people A)from all over MLB, both AL and NL, indicating (to me at least) that he has done his homework as opposed to just looking for his drinking pals and B) from organizations with really good scouting systems. The Red Sox need no explanation. Cleveland has been competitive on a small budget for a while (even if they had a bad team this year) because of their ability to scout and develop talent (see: Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia for just 2 recent examples). The Braves, despite their recent struggles, still maintain a deep and talented minor league system. We're pulling a variety of guys from proven, talented systems and that is really encouraging to me. Finally, I love that we are filling thes FO and scouting positions before choosing a manager. It looks like we are setting up a true, competant chain of command. This is quickly looking like an organization that will be able to compete in the long run. Well done Rizzo.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | October 16, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: NatsNut | October 16, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Amen to thanks for Tracee's great posts and cheeseburger53's comments on Rizzo. (cheeseburger, if 53 is your DOB, we have something in common.)

Posted by: Section109 | October 16, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

nf1a -- thanks for the link to the construction cam. I remember following it every day for at least eight months. And loving it when I could finally see (and zoom in on) my seats. The one good thing about getting older is the off season feels shorter every year. Soon enough it will be opening day again.

Posted by: Section222 | October 16, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Those were the days, 222. Credit NatsNut for dredging up the link the other day.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 16, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

And you're right. Time seems to go by faster every year.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 16, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

cheeseburger, NN: Just a minor point, but Cliff Lee was originally drafted & signed by... the Montreal Expos; He was acquired by CLE mid-season 2002, along with Grady Sizemore & one other prospect for Bartolo Colon.

Posted by: BinM | October 16, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

So, will the WaPo will let Tracee do a couple more baseball columns (& some blog posts), since Harlan & Sheinin are both working the playoffs?

Posted by: BinM | October 16, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Yes, please!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 16, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

"cheeseburger, NN: Just a minor point, but Cliff Lee was originally drafted & signed by... the Montreal Expos;"

Its pretty interesting that this franchise was probably close to the top when it came to finding and developing prospects for a good long time.

I know the old Senators now Rangers seemed terrible at it ... and their predecessors the Twins were just getting pretty good at it before they booked.

I think Rizzo is the key to success as far as we are concerned.

Posted by: periculum | October 16, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

What could be better - listening to Vin Scully broadcasting a well-pitched game (bottom of the 7th, 1-0 Phillies). He may be 81, but Vin still paints a wonderful picture with his game calls.

Posted by: BinM | October 16, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

BinM: That other prospect dealt for Colon would be Brandon Phillips. Could the Nats use him at second?

Posted by: Section314 | October 16, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

peric: In the history of this franchise, there were two near fatal blows - the first was when Loria bought his share of the Expos in 1999. The second was when MLB took over the franchise in 2002 & hired Omar Minaya as a GM, with marching orders to dis-assemble the franchise for contraction.

The problems with the original Senators / Twins and the "new" Senators / Rangers are another set of stories, for another time.

Posted by: BinM | October 16, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

314: Thank you - I knew that the trade was three good prospects for a half-season rental, I just couldn't recall the third player. Let's be honest, if Minaya doesn't make that trade, the team might still be in Montreal.

Even if they still did come here in 2005, we might have seen the following starters...

C- Schneider, B.
1B- Johnson, N.
2B- Phillips, B. (replacing Vidro)
SS- Guzman, C.
3B- Castilla, V. (Zimmerman, R. in Sept)
LF- Wilkerson, B. (replacing Wilson, P.)
CF- Sizemore, G. (replacing Wilkerson)
RF- Guillen, J.

Imagine the possibilities.

Posted by: BinM | October 16, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Buntin' Belli strikes again, and LA heads east with a split. Also, nice job of booing Victorino, Dodger fans.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 16, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Yep, now the series might go 7!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | October 16, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Dodgers win, Dodgers win! Off they go to Philly for a pair, & a best-of-five series.

More revisionist history on my prior 2005 lineup post - If the Expos had a real owner, maybe Guerrero would have been extended or re-signed (FA, signed by the Angels in 2004). That would have led to...

C- Schneider, B.
1B- Johnson, N.
2B- Phillips, B. (replacing Vidro)
SS- Guzman, C.
3B- Castilla, V. (Zimmerman, R. in Sept)
LF- Wilkerson, B. (replacing Wilson, P.)
CF- Sizemore, G. (replacing Wilkerson)
RF- Guerrero, V. (replacing Guillen, J.)
and a lineup of...
1-Sizemore (CF
2-Phillips (2B
3-Johnson (1B
4-Guerrero (RF
5-Castilla (3B
6-Wilkerson (LF
7-Schneider (C
8-Guzman (SS
9-Pitcher (Hernandez, Lee, Loiza, Patterson, Armas).
Bullpen - Carrasco, Eischen, Rauch, Stanton, Ayala, Cordero (CL)

Posted by: BinM | October 16, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

BinM, you just warmed my heart with that retro Nats lineup (and, needless to say, raised my blood pressure at the talent that MLB dealt).

2005 was magic. In many ways, the opposite of this year. If we had a lead going into the 7th, we would win.

If we were down before the 7th, there was a good chance we would win. Every night, you could feel that we might win.

I remember Roy Oswalt was dealing against us, and these Astros fans were getting pretty cocky about it. I said, "wait till we get to your bullpen, then the ground you sit on is going to shake." They laughed at my dad and I, and then sure enough, we came back. RFK was bouncing (my favorite stadium memory of any park) like crazy.

Oh 2005. How I miss thee.

Posted by: NattyDelite | October 16, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

N_Delite: Glad to rekindle a good memory for you. BTW, the bench on that team could have been Bennett(C), Vidro(2B-3B), Guillen(OF), Baerga(IF-PH), M.Byrd(OF), & Carroll(IF).

Posted by: BinM | October 16, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Got seats right behind home plate for tonights game!!!

Posted by: hour36 | October 16, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I was rooting for Pedro this afternoon and no i'm not going to remind all of my fellow bloggers that i for one wanted the Nats to sign Pedro this past spring but nevermind,how could Charlie take him out i mean he was pitching great anyway serves em right now the Dodger's have got them right where they want them yeah right Philles in six mark it down.

Posted by: dargregmag | October 16, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Before the evening gets away from us, how about a round of "happy birthday" for young Bryce Harper, who turns 17 today. Maybe next October one of Tracee's entertaining posts will feature our new wunderkind lighting up the AFL.

(Yes, TimDZ, caveat emptor)

Guess that makes this caveat pre-emptor....

Posted by: Drew8 | October 16, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

So now you kids want a shiny new Harper? We'll see.

In other news, looks like Strasburg has 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K (and seven groundouts). The hit came at the start of the third inning, but a double-play got the D-Dogs out of the inning.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 16, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Strausberg was pulled after 3 1/3 innings.

Posted by: hour36 | October 16, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

SS's final line: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 SO, 50 pitches/32 strikes, 8 groundouts/0 flyouts. Oh, and gametime weather: 95 and clear. Wish I was there!

Posted by: thepostischeap | October 16, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Wish I was there, too.

Found a story and video here:

Executive summary: both hits were singles; the D'Dogs won 7-4 and Strasburg got the win; sounds like his next start will be Thursday, with a 60-65 pitch limit (it was 50 yesterday).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 17, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Details on the start here:

Oh, and did I mention that the Devilish Dogs are in first place? They're sizzling - tssss!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 17, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

So, everyone but Rooney has seen some game time - Hope that comes in the next few days.

I'm with you 1a1 - I just want the Nationals to select the Best Athlete Available at #1 next June. If it happens to be Bryce Harper, fine.

Posted by: BinM | October 17, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

When MLB beefed up the roster for short-term success in 2005 for the first season in DC, they traded Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis to Anaheim/LA for Jose Guillen. The F. Robbie and Jose show provided some great moments, but how does that trade look now?

Posted by: utec | October 17, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

utec: That trade was just another of the "death by a thousand cuts" that Loria & MLB put this team through between 1999 & 2006.

Posted by: BinM | October 17, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Sporting News is reporting that Ryan Zimmerman, in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, is endorsing Jim Riggleman to remain skipper of the Nats.

Posted by: cokedispatch | October 17, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

For you pumpkin carvers out there or anyone else with a slight artistic talent, see the Curly W, Nationals, Interlocking DC and Screech logos in stencil form at:
I see tee-shirts, flags, mailboxes and a variety of other items emblazoned with one or the other of these. Heck, you could leave out a letter in Nationals if you want to.
Go Desert Dogs!

Posted by: HALjr | October 17, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the SS links, 1a. I wonder if he went all out yesterday or if he's still holding back a little.

Posted by: NatsNut | October 17, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Storen blog:

Posted by: NatsNut | October 17, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, NatsNut. Thanks for the blog link.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 17, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I also found this piece in the Arizona Examiner (don't you just love rainy Saturday afternoons?). Along with the recap, it explains why Strasburg got the win although he didn't pitch five innings.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 17, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Just got my season tix renewal package. On the front cover: Zim, TPlush, Dunn, Strasburg and Willingslam.

Rizzo, if you can get through an entire season without trading the guys on your printed literature, that would be a great start. :)

Posted by: NatsNut | October 17, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Nice. Speaking of front covers, I finally got my 2009 Nationals media guide (found on E-Bay). Re. Nats pics, they're 3 for 4 if Olsen comes back, 2 for 4 otherwise.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 17, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

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