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Posted at 7:34 PM ET, 11/23/2010

Danny Espinosa to have hand surgery, out six weeks

By Adam Kilgore

Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa, the leading candidate to win the starting position out of spring training, hurt his hand playing winter ball in Puerto Rico and will require six weeks to fully heal, according to a release from the team. Espinosa will have the hook of hamate bone removed from his right hand Wednesday in Baltimore at the Curtis National Hand Center.

Espinosa is expected to be fully healed and ready by the time spring training begins in late February. Shortstop Ian Desmond suffered significant complications from a similar procedure during his time in the minors, but only because a doctor botched the initial operation.

Nationals catching prospect Derek Norris also underwent a similar procedure in the offseason. He struggled with a hand injury all season, but he said it was an unrelated injury to the same area that occurred from sliding into second base awkwardly. Norris did not feel 100 percent all season.

Espinosa had been playing for Ponce, a team managed by former Nationals third base coach Pat Listach. In 112 plate appearances following his September call-up, Espinosa hit .214/.277/.447 with six home runs. During his time in Puerto Rico, Espinosa had hit .345/.434/.460 with one home run in 87 at-bats.

By Adam Kilgore  | November 23, 2010; 7:34 PM ET
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Although players are typically back in action fairly soon after undergoing this surgery, even if it goes well it can still take upwards of a year for them to get their pre-operation power back. Look at Derek Norris and Ryan Zimmerman as prime examples of this.

Posted by: nunof1 | November 23, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

This team is more snake bit than Cleopatra.

Posted by: swanni | November 23, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

GREAT - Another hamate surgery! That's at least three in three years (RZim in '08, Norris in '09, Espinosa in '10). This is becoming the Players' version of "Tommy John" surgery.

Espinosa will be capable of playing in 2010, but you can almost forget about getting much power out of his bat until ST 2012; That's a 12-month recovery, at best. Add another IF to the bench "wish list" for 2011, beyond AGonz.

Posted by: BinM | November 23, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Good Grief! The real tragedy here might be the indirect impact on the Nationals trade market. If the Nats were indeed considering trading one of Espinosa or Desmond, there could be second thoughts now. I guess the Nats would still pull the trigger for a good deal, but if teams were asking about Espinosa, they might look at other trading partners now.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 23, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Biscuits: Espinosa won't be off the trade request boards, but will be reduced in value due to the injury. A hamate surgery doesn't usually effect defensive ability (unless it's their throwing hand - which it is). However, it does restrict a player's power at the plate (they can't "come through" on a pitch to pull it like they had previously.

Add another MI to the bench to begin the season, and calling Mr. Lombardozzi on line 2 - STAT!

Posted by: BinM | November 23, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Born to be a National.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | November 23, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Nats players should be required to have this bone removed when they sign to avoid later problems.

Posted by: markfromark | November 24, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

The line on the website for him is actually .281/.343/.483, 89 ABs and 2 HRs for Leones de Ponce.

Posted by: VladiHondo | November 24, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Not the best news with which to begin the Thanksgiving holiday. Let's hope the healing process goes smoothly and Espo does better than Norris in recovery.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | November 24, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

FYI - Nats prospect day on Baseball Prospectus. Two 5 stars - Norris and some guy they drafted last year.

Also, Baseball America has Harper and Norris in the top 10 AFL prospects. Overall interesting top 20....

Posted by: goexpos2 | November 24, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Norris is beginning to look someone who could end up in the first base sweepstakes. Over Tyler Moore, Chris Marerro, and Justin Bloxom or BinM's Brett Newsome who can't get very far listed and playing mostly as a DH.

Norris would have the superior bat. He looks pretty close to major league ready offensively ... just needs a spot on defense and first base may look very inviting to Mike Rizzo and company ... who we all hope do not sign Carlos Pena ... and if they do hopefully its a 1 year deal.

Posted by: periculum | November 26, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, Trade Rumors reported yesterday that the Nats are the most "enthusiastic" team about signing Pena. Yeah, because we are the most enthusiastic about signing cheap has beens. Turkey day indeed.

Posted by: NatsFly | November 26, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Let's see if we can shock a few of you out of your tryptophan-induced stupors (Kilgore included).

Given that some changes will come from the upcoming FA/Arb deadline, the Rule-5 draft, non-tenders & possible trades / signings, here's my 'spin' on the current 40-man roster - by position.

CA: Pudge stays, with either Ramos or Flores in DC, & the loser in SYR; Nieves is either gone, or re-signed for SYR.
1B: Dunn is the 800-lb gorilla in the room until Tuesday - If he leaves, it's either Morse, Marrero, or a FA, leaving a LH hole in the middle of the lineup.
2B: Espinosa, with the possibility of Lombardozzi in September.
3B: RZim, then AGonz.
SS: Desmond, or one a couple of replacement-level players in the minors.
LF: Willingham, or Bernadina.
CF: Morgan, or Maxwell.
RF: A place-holder platoon of Morse/Bernadina.
Bench: Either Flores/Ramos [CA], AGonz [MI], Maxwell [OF] Morse [1B/RF], & ???.

Starters: A top-five of Livo, Lannan, JZimm, Marquis & Detwiler (ugh). Maya, Martin, Atilano, Mock, Martis, & Thompson start 2011 either in the minors with DC, or somewhere else.
Relievers: One of either Stammen or Chico in long relief, two of the Carr, Clippard, or Peralta group in middle relief, one of either Slaten or Severino as the left-handed specialist, and three from the group of Balester, Burnett, Kimball, and Storen for set-up / closer duties. My 'best-guess' as of right now would have Chico, Clippard, Carr, Slaten, Balester, Storen & Burnett in the final 25.

Everyday lineup - Player (Pos, Bats)
1- Morgan (CF, L)
2- Desmond (SS, R)
3- Willingham (LF, R)
4- RZim (3B, R)
5- Morse (1B, R)
6- Bernadina (RF, L)
7- Rodriguez (CA, R)
8- Espinosa (2B, B)
9- Starting Pitcher

Biggest percieved needs for 2011: A stop-gap #1-2SP, a LH power threat at either RF or 1B, bench strength at IF & OF, and possibly an experienced multi-purpose arm in the bullpen.

Posted by: BinM | November 27, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I'll add the following as further agitation:

Going 'all-in' for Cliff Lee as a FA would be an extremely foolish move, imo. Offering even a 5-year contract at $20M+/year for a 32y.o. pitcher is highly risky, and could hamstring the franchise for possible re-signings of Espinosa, RZim, Storen, Strasburg, and others. A short-term acquisition like Vazquez via FA, the likes of Grienke or Garza via trade, or 'getting lucky' with someone like Wang, Chris Young, or possibly Bonderman as a better investment.

Along the same lines, I see Werth as a probable waste of money, much like Jason Bay in 2009. The Nationals could benefit from another outfielder or two, just not Werth, imo. Either go for Crawford, or pick from the fringes.

Posted by: BinM | November 27, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

BinM-I don't think we have to worry about Lee coming here at any price. The lineup you posit is sadly realistic, as is another horrible season. Time to go back to the tryptophan-induced stupor.

Posted by: NatsFly | November 27, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

If we do end up dumpster-diving to replace Adam Dunn, the bottom of the barrel (to mix metaphors) should be Adam LaRoche and NOT Carlos Pena.

Posted by: bertbkatz | November 27, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

My only quibble with the opening day lineup is that I'm believing (hoping?) that Maya is in the rotation, and that Detwiler is not.

Posted by: Sunderland | November 27, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Also BinM, completely agreeing that the last thing I want to see (or expect to see) is the Nationals signing Cliff Lee.

Posted by: Sunderland | November 28, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

BinM: nice run down.

I think that Zim bats 3rd as he is the club's best hitter and Willingham can slug enough to hit clean-up.

I think that Morse gets left out to 4th OF/utility role (occasional 1B or 3B start) and that 1B is an import of one variety of Pena or Laroche (need a lefty), and whomever that guy is he bats 4th or 5th (depending on the pitcher they face).

I also think that Maya ends up in the rotation in lieu of Detwiler and that there is one SP added by trade or by FA -- who knows who they land.

I think that the club would also do well to add a closer. There are a few out there to be had, no club has a bull pen that does not need improvement and the Nats can't look to guys like Peralta repeating, so it would money well spent (and Storen may not be ready for the role).

Posted by: dfh21 | November 28, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

well Vasques isn't coming.

I still think we spend this offseason, although I don't believe long term pieces are available in this crop of FAs. I still expect some of the youth to get dealt, realistically we need players in 2 years when SS returns and we can make some kind of a move.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | November 28, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately BinM's everyday lineup is the likely lineup next season. This is all part of the plan.

Posted by: CountDemoney | November 28, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Kilgore, vacation is over. Let's get cracking on the reporting. OK. :)

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 29, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

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