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Espinosa opts out of World Baseball Classic

Nationals slugger wants to continue rehabilitation process on shoulder

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Espinosa opts out of World Baseball Classic play video for Espinosa opts out of World Baseball Classic

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa has decided not to play in the World Baseball Classic for Team Mexico.

Espinosa, who is recovering from a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, said he needed to take his time and continue to rehab the shoulder, which he has done most of the offseason. Espinosa, 25, hopes to get the chance to play in the World Baseball Classic in four years.

"It seems like a better decision. I'll get ready [for the season], I feel good, I feel strong," Espinosa said. "It would have been cool to play for Team Mexico, being from an all-Hispanic community.

"I know a lot of people from the community said something to my mom, dad and even to me. There were places I grew up eating where [the people] heard the news. They were so excited. It would have been a great experience to play against other countries. … [But] you realize you don't play that many games and you don't play all the time. I'm not going to get the reps that I want in order to get ready [for the season]. I really want to get the reps [in Florida]. I know my shoulder feels fine."

Espinosa hurt the shoulder Sept. 8 while making a diving play against the Marlins. It was originally diagnosed as a bruise, but after the season ended, he still felt the shoulder wasn't right. So he went home to see Dr. Lewis Yocum in California, and it was revealed that he had a torn rotator cuff. Espinosa did not swing a bat again until Jan. 1.

Espinosa currently works on both of his shoulders three times a week, and he said both shoulders feel great. Espinosa said if he had surgery, he would have missed the first two months of the regular season.

"My shoulders feel way stronger than they have in the last few years just because of all the rehab stuff -- muscles that I've never worked out before. They just feel better," Espinosa said. "I feel stronger at this point that nothing is going to hold me back. … I'm not going to be afraid to do anything. It's already torn. It's not going to get worse. My shoulder is stronger now than it was when it was healthy."

Despite having the injury late last year, Espinosa played in a career-high 160 games last season, hitting .247 with 17 home runs, 56 RBIs and a career-high 189 strikeouts. Espinosa expects those numbers to improve now that his shoulder is much better.

"If I maintain it, I'll be fine," Espinosa said. "As long as I continue to do my stuff, I take care of myself -- which I have always done -- I'll be perfectly healthy."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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