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Nationals confident in Espinosa as part of future

Infielder seeking to rebound from disappointing 2013 season

Nationals confident in Espinosa as part of future

NEW YORK -- There are a lot of teams who are still inquiring about Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa, according to a baseball source, but general manager Mike Rizzo is not expected to budge. He still believes in Espinosa and feels he will be an All-Star one day.

The same source also said he would not be surprised if Espinosa was part of a starting infield that included shortstop Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman at first base and Anthony Rendon at third base in 2015.

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Rizzo is not the only one who believes in Espinosa. Add manager Matt Williams to the list of people in Espinosa's corner. Williams declined to focus on Espinosa's disappointing season in 2013, a year in which he spent most of his time with Triple-A Syracuse.

After being Washington's everyday second baseman in 2011 and '12, Espinosa is a reserve behind Desmond and Rendon, who is currently the starting second baseman. Espinosa still considers himself an everyday player. But in Monday's 9-7 victory over the Mets, Espinosa came off the bench and had a key at-bat in the ninth inning against closer Bobby Parnell.

With the Mets ahead, 5-4, and one out away from victory, the switch-hitting Espinosa showed his patience from the left side of the plate. He saw eight pitches before drawing a walk to put runners on first and second.

"I was trying to stay comfortable and keep my at-bat at the pace I wanted it," Espinosa said. "I didn't want to feel rushed, and I didn't want to feel uncomfortable."

By keeping the rally alive, it allowed the next hitter, Denard Span, to drive in the tying run with a double to left-center.

Williams wasn't surprised by Espinosa's at-bat.

"That's what I've seen all spring," Williams said. "He is going to continue to get opportunities and play. He is excited about playing, so [the at-bat] was great. … All I know is what I've seen all spring. … He swung the bat really well. His approach is good, his patience is good. It's good for him."

There is a reason Espinosa is relaxed and focused this year. He had had a heart-to-heart talk with Williams before Spring Training. Williams told Espinosa about the bad year he had in 1992 as a member of the Giants, a season in which he hit .227 with 20 home runs and 66 RBIs. After the talk with Williams, Espinosa decided to look at things with a positive attitude.

"He had gone through similar struggles in his career. You don't hear too many people ever talk about it," Espinosa said. "To be able to relate to something, to see how good he was and see all the problems he went through, I can come back from last year. [2013] will not set where my career is supposed to go. Every day, he just told me, when I was hitting the ball to stay where I'm at. That's all I kept trying to do -- just continue to work and continue to stay where I've been working and not try to stray."

If Monday was any indication, Espinosa will be a productive player for the Nats this season.

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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