If there were any worries from the Washington Nationals camp over Danny Espinosa‘s shoulder going into Spring Training, you could safely say that they have been laid to rest.
The second baseman’s revelation that he played with a partially torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder during the 2012 season wasn’t exactly the strongest vote of confidence that he could have given the team, but if anything, it would seem that the rehabbing the 25-year old did in the off-season may have actually made things even stronger.
That’s what his spring results would suggest, in any case.
Espinosa had mentioned that he felt the injury was the cause if his strikeouts spike in the second half of 2012 (29.6 percent to 27.9 percent), but it hasn’t been a problem through what is lined up to be his strongest Grapefruit League campaign yet.
You can say that he’s more than put his shoulder to the test, having logged a team-high 75 at-bats over 26 spring games. Over that span, he’s put up a solid .347/.372/.493 triple slash with a pair of steals.
His paltry three walks to 17 strikeouts isn’t too pretty, but it isn’t as though Espinosa will be counted on to get on base anyway. The point is that he’s getting the hits — and consistently doing so, with knocks in each of his last eight spring appearances, and 10 of his last 11.
Baseball in April will be a whole different story, of course, but if Espinosa can carry any of the batting eye that he’s showing in spring to add to his already-there 20-20 potential and plus defense, the Nationals might just end up having a 4.0-plus fWAR mini-breakout player on their hands here.
To get there, of course, his shoulder will have to go through the biggest test — hold up for a third-straight season of 650-plus plate appearances. Rehabbed or not, that’s going to be easier said than done.
But, as James Wagner of the Washington Post reports, playing every day is a matter of pride for Espinosa, and if his Spring Training is any indication, he’ll be ready to lead the Nationals in that department for a third straight year.