What to expect from Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos this month
Danny Espinosa learned he would be heading to the major leagues late Tuesday night, after he returned to Syracuse from Buffalo. Manager Trent Jewett gave him the news. It felt surreal, to realize his dream. "That was the first thing that came into my mind, forever thinking what it was going to be like," Espinosa said. "Now I'm going to find out."
Espinosa landed in South Florida at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and, after he figured out how to get there, drove straight to Sun Life Stadium. When he walked into the Nationals clubhouse for the first time, he found Ian Desmond. They had never played together - they had both been shortstops, Desmond a step ahead of Espinosa since the Nationals drafted him in the third round in 2008.
"He was excited," Espinosa said. "Between the two of us, we're going to get a lot of balls up the middle."
That is the expectation, for Espinosa and Desmond to play together up the middle for years to come. But what can we expect from Espinosa - who joined the Nationals today, along with catcher Wilson Ramos - for the rest of the season?
Espinosa just began playing second base for the first time since high school, playing every other day with Class AAA Syracuse for the past two weeks. His playing will cut into Adam Kennedy's, but the Nationals want to see him at second base in the majors to "acclimate him to the major league scene as much to evaluate him," General Manager Mike Rizzo said.
"He'll get plenty of action," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "The team chemistry aspect is still important, so I don't want to just say to Adam Kennedy, 'Hey, thanks for your contribution. But we've got this other guy now.' He's going to continue to be involved in the lineup. Espinosa is going to get playing time through September."
Rizzo said "there's a possibility" Espinosa could be on a similar pat as Desmond, who laid a foundation to become the Nationals' starting shortstop last season during his September call-up. Rizzo feels the Nationals are more certain at second base with Adam Kennedy than they were at shortstop with Cristian Guzman, who was coming off of shoulder surgery.
Rizzo also expects to see Ramos, the catcher the Nationals acquired from the Twins for Matt Capps, plenty this month. "He'll play quite a bit in September," Rizzo said. "I think Pudge has had a great season for us. He's caught a lot of games, caught a lot of innings. We'll give him a breather and evaluate Ramos a little bit, too."
With Espinosa, Ramos, Desmond, Roger Bernadina and Ryan Zimmerman potentially sharing the field for September, the Nationals will see a team built on homegrown talent start to take shape. Rizzo would prefer not to see all of them playing together frequently so as not to play a "pseudo-Triple A club." But he wants to see them and will use the time to begin determining the 2011 roster.
"It is exciting to see the future right in front of us," Rizzo said. "You have the makings of your core. It'll be a month that I think is going to be important to our players. Guys are fighting for playing time in '11 right now."
September 1, 2010; 7:33 PM ET
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