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Danny Espinosa takes the leadoff spot as Nationals put brawl in the past

After Nyjer Morgan met with league officials at Nationals Park this morning -- a meeting that lasted some 4 1/2 hours and included chief disciplinarian Bob Watson -- the Nationals remain unsure when a ruling will come down on how many games he'll miss. A league official said a decision may not come until after the weekend.

In the meantime, the Nationals will use call-up Danny Espinosa at the leadoff spot. Espinosa hit either leadoff or second for most of this season at Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Syracuse. "To me, it's not really any different" than hitting lower in the order, Espinosa said. "I'm not going to treat it any different."

Riggleman put Espinosa at the top of the order despite Morgan's availability because he wants Espinosa to get used to hitting there for when Morgan is serving his suspension.

"We're going to try Espinosa at the top of the lineup so if there is a suspension, then Danny will have had a few days here to acclimate himself to that part of the lineup," Riggleman said. "If Nyjer is out, we'll continue to go with that. If Danny looks uncomfortable, we'll have to make an adjustment and put somebody else in there. It's a place I don't think he will be overwhelmed with, because he has done it."

Riggleman penciled in Morgan in the eighth spot and, despite the recent history with the Marlins, never gave any thought to sitting Morgan. Riggleman believes any lingering tension from last week's brawl has settled down.

"I think that whole thing is over with," Riggleman said. "I know it's over with from our end. I'm sure it's over with from their end. If anything happened, I think it would be purely coincidental. That's not a concern at this point."

Tonight's umpires may issue a warning to both teams and starters Alex Sanabia and John Lannan before the game. Riggleman would not be surprised, but he hopes the umps refrain from any warnings, which could affect the game by dissuading pitchers from throwing inside.

After the Marlins posted their original lineup, first baseman Gaby Sanchez decided to start serving his suspension tonight. Wes Helms -- the veteran who blasted Morgan after the brawl and said "he gets under my skin" -- moved from third base to first. (If Morgan reaches on a single or a walk, that'll make for comfortable conversation around the bag.) Emiliano Bonifacio will play first.

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 10, 2010; 5:58 PM ET
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Next: Game 141 discussion thread: Nationals vs. Marlins


So, Sanchez ducks the wrath of the fans at the park for the three-game series. I'd hope that when announced, Helms would be greeted by neither boos nor cheers, but instead by total silence; No walk-up music, no polite applause, just complete indifference.

So far as a pre-game warning to both pitchers & benches, I hope not. That's just an open invitation for the Marlins to crowd the plate even more early in the game, hoping Lannan nicks one of them & gets tossed.

Posted by: BinM | September 10, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you about the pre-game warning BinM. Unnecessary.
But since I gotta stay in tonight, this is must see TV.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 10, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Sanchez likely does not give a damn about the wrath of Nats fans (as if there is such s thing really), he is likely thinking that he wants to take the penalty now to be in the lineup down the stretch for as many ROY votes as he can get.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 10, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

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