In Desmond's absence, Nats have good options

In Desmond's absence, Nats have good options

In Desmond's absence, Nats have good options
NEW YORK -- With the Nationals losing one of their most productive everyday players to the disabled list -- the team's MVP, according to veteran Mark DeRosa -- there will certainly be plenty of ground to be made up with Ian Desmond missing time.

But as far as other players stepping up, that timing could not be much better.

The Nationals called up outfielder Corey Brown, but the real shift will come with Danny Espinosa playing shortstop and Steve Lombardozzi full-time at second base. They'd both spent time in those respective roles as Desmond nursed his oblique injury.

"Hopefully those two guys can kind of help pick up the slack," manager Davey Johnson said. "It's going to be hard, because [Desmond] was a mainstay in this lineup."

Entering Monday, Espinosa had a hit in eight straight games and was batting .414 with three doubles, a triple, a homer, five RBIs and one stolen base in that span. Lombardozzi posted a 13-game hitting streak from June 29-July 13, in which he hit .340.

Lombardozzi's permanent move to the infield leaves a hole in the outfield that will likely be filled primarily by the hot-hitting Roger Bernadina. As the Nationals designated two outfielders for assignment last week (Rick Ankiel and Xavier Nady) and Bryce Harper had a left ankle injury scare on Saturday, Bernadina has surged since the end of June.

In 19 games since June 28, Bernadina entered Monday 16-for-31 with four RBIs, four walks, six stolen bases and four runs scored to raise his on-base percentage from .320 to .545. His batting average in that time had climbed from .234 to .292 entering Monday's series opener in New York.