Espinosa out of lineup, but his shoulder is fine

Espinosa out of lineup, but his shoulder is fine
PHILADELPHIA -- Second baseman Danny Espinosa seemed surprised, if not agitated, to see his name out of the Nationals' starting lineup on Wednesday, insisting his sore left shoulder feels "100 percent."

As it turns out, manager Davey Johnson's thought process on giving Espinosa a day off had nothing to do with the shoulder injury.

Espinosa, who has been playing with a bone bruise in his left shoulder, has appeared in all but two of the Nationals' 154 games entering Wednesday night, starting 147 of them. Anytime Johnson gives the infielder a day off, the skipper's in for a battle.

"I think he's been pressing a little bit lately," Johnson said. "He's been swinging awfully hard and [I] just wanted him to sit back and relax a little bit. ... It has nothing to do [with the shoulder]. I just felt like he was over-swinging a little bit."

Johnson also noted that Espinosa was 3-for-16 in his career against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, while backup second baseman Steve Lombardozzi was 3-for-11.

"I didn't want to completely shut him down," Johnson said of Lombardozzi. "One of the guys that I've really slighted the most has been Lombo. He was an everyday player and playing great -- probably as good as anybody."

Espinosa has been valuable in his regular spot at second base, but also when shifting over to shortstop while Ian Desmond has battled injury.

Before Wednesday's game, Espinosa assured reporters that he feels fine -- he had a cortisone shot in the ailing shoulder on Aug. 17 -- and it was "definitely [Johnson]" who made the call.

Said Johnson: "I know he's an intense competitor. I'm sure he thinks I'm an idiot. Maybe I am."

Espinosa is hitting .235 over his last 11 games, and .278 over his last six games, with three doubles and two RBIs.