Catching up with Danny Espinosa, Chris Marrero
Shortstop Danny Espinosa will represent the Nationals in the Futures Game, an achievement especially exciting for Espinosa because the game at Angel Stadium is only minutes from his childhood home.
"I was fortunate to go last year, but to go this year meant more to me," Espinosa said.
He said he grew up two miles from the ballpark and his parents have been season-ticket holders of the Angels. Before the season, Espinosa made a goal to play in the game.
The appearance comes at a good time for Espinosa, who has recovered from a horrid stretch with a strong few weeks in Harrisburg. He is batting .300 in his last 10 games, raising his average to .250 this season.
Espinosa said he was too often changing approaches earlier in the season. He said he "messed himself up" by always adjusting instead of remaining comfortable.
"In the last week, I've stayed with the same approach every single at-bat, every game, throughout the entire game," Espinosa said. "My numbers have just dramatically gone up."
He said the approach has been taking pitches and going deep into counts. When he struggled, he swung early and tried too hard to reach base.
"Danny's a pretty exciting player over there at short," Manager Randy Knorr said. "He's going to make some plays for you. He got off to a hot start, went through a period where he was in a period of adjustment, struggled a little bit. But he's fought himself out of it. ... It was good for him to fail a little bit. We wanted to see how he bounced back, and he bounced back pretty well."
Espinosa also takes grounders at second base before the game in case he must change positions to reach the major leagues. During spring training, Espinosa played second base at times. If Espinosa progresses to his optimum, the Nationals will need to make a decision about how to play he and Ian Desmond together.
"Whether I play second or short, I'd just rather be up there," Espinosa said. "I don't really care. I'd like to play short, but if the team thinks I'm going to play second base better and I can help with second base more than short, that's the decision and I'll roll with that and I'm fine. I'm totally happy with that. I just want to make it up there."
Chris Marrero, the Nationals' first-round pick in 2006, is having a standout season with the Senators after spending much of the past three seasons with Class A Potomac. Marrero is batting .290 this season with 11 home runs and 43 RBI, including 10 RBI in his last 10 games.
"I'm getting good pitches to hit and not missing them," Marrero said. "Before, I was getting good pitches to hit and missing them, getting myself out. Now, I'm not missing them."
A right-handed slugging first baseman, Marrero's numbers have been particularly strong against left-handed pitching, against whom he's hitting .354 with four home runs in 84 at-bats.
In Class AA, Marrero often faces the top pitching prospects. That's why his recent stretch is particularly encouraging. He said he must improve his defense at first base, although he has not paid much attention to the organization depth chart and the pending free agency of first baseman Adam Dunn.
"I definitely don't feel pressure," Marrero said. "I want to make it to the big leagues, but I don't want to pressure myself to get there. I want to be ready and put the pressure on them to move me up."
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