Espinosa was fielding grounders at shortstop on Sunday morning, and Johnson said utilizing Espinosa at shortstop could mean Desmond will miss a few games. Steve Lombardozzi started at shortstop in the only other game Desmond missed this season, April 19 against the Astros.
Since then, Desmond has played every inning of every game for Washington. He was named an All-Star this season for the first time in his career, but skipped the Midsummer Classic to rest the injury.
Johnson believes the four days off could have actually done more harm than good for Desmond, who has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games and leads all Major League shortstops in doubles (24), homers (17), RBIs (52), slugging percentage (.511) and extra-base hits (43).
"Sometimes when you have an injury and you totally rest it, sometimes it tries to over-heal and those muscles get a little tighter from the healing," Johnson said.
During the Nationals' first game out of the break, Johnson said he noticed the oblique still bothering Desmond. The effects became more noticeable on Saturday, when Desmond went 1-for-4 with a bunt single. Desmond told Johnson the reason he bunted for the base hit was because the injury flared up and he couldn't swing.
"We're just going to take it easy, especially the day game after a night game that it bothered [him]," Johnson said. "[He'll] get work on it. Hopefully, he can get by it."
While the lingering injury could cause Desmond to miss a few games, Johnson is optimistic that it won't require a stint on the disabled list.
"Hopefully, it's not a DL thing," Johnson said. "It's something that he's learned to live with -- and hopefully treatment, the stretching, can loosen it back up and he'll be good to go. Certainly his performance, it hasn't hurt his power."