Williams not concerned with Espinosa's start

Williams not concerned with Espinosa's start

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Matt Williams said he isn't concerned about infielder Danny Espinosa, who is 0-for-5 in two games to start the spring. In fact, Williams went so far as to say that he likes Espinosa's approach at the plate.

Take the bottom of the fourth inning of Saturday's 16-15 victory over the Braves: Williams loved that Espinosa went with the pitch and hit the ball hard to shortstop Aldrelton Simmons, who ended up getting a force play.

"The result wasn't good, but we are not looking for that right now," Williams said. "It's about the approach. I need him to get reps and make sure he is doing what he needs to do. We will move him around in different spots and see what he does."

Espinosa is coming off the worst season of his career and spent most of the season at Triple-A Syracuse. He struck out a combined 148 times in 471 at-bats for the Nationals and Chiefs.

Williams knows what it's like to come off a bad year. In 1992, Williams was a regular third baseman for the Giants when he had his worst season as an everyday player, hitting .227 with 20 home runs and 66 RBIs. He bounced back in 1993 and finished sixth in the National League MVP voting. Williams was able to bounce back because he was able to relax and understood that he didn't have to do more than what he was capable of doing.

Williams is hoping that Espinosa can follow the same path.

"[Espinosa] has had success in the big leagues," Williams said. "He has hit balls over the fence. He certainly plays Gold Glove-caliber defense and he had a rough year. Those are the factors. It is undisputed. How do we move on from here is the point. My plan for him this spring is to give him a lot of at-bats, get him comfortable, get him feeling good about himself. His defense and his offense will allow him to go play."

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.