Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Five Minutes With Danny Espinosa
Our Washington Nationals Danny Espinosa's first two weeks in the Major Leagues has been nothing short of entertaining. His very first game featured "The Melee In Miami" and his first Big League hit--an rbi double in his very first at-bat. Game Two in Nats Uniform Number 18 found Danny homering to right at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. And his very first game ever played at Nationals Park will not soon be forgotten either--two home runs, a grand slam and six rbi.
Off to a fast start early with his bat, the speedy middle infielder has come back down to earth over the past seven days, but through it all--Danny Espinosa has proven to be a steady, quality gloveman and arm in the field. Two plays against The Florida Marlins this past weekend in D.C. showed all his god-given defensive talent.
A back arm, diving, face plant stab of a hard hit baseball off the bat of Logan Morrison with the bases loaded and two outs was stunning to watch on Saturday afternoon. An electrifying play that also found The Long Beach State University product not only making the stop, but easily throwing out Morrison at first base to end the frame and save Washington a run on the scoreboard.
This after Espinosa threw out Morrison at home plate on Friday night in the top of the 9th inning on one of the best relay throws from short right field you may ever see. After The Fish's Dan Uggla laced a liner down the right field line-Logan attempted to score all the way from 1st base. Justin Maxwell chased the baseball down in the corner and threw to Danny standing about 15 to 20 feet behind the infield near the right field foul line. Without hesitating, Espinosa wheeled around upon catching Maxwell's toss and fired a rocket home--just up the 3rd base line--where Pudge Rodriguez acrobatically one handed the baseball while being slid under by Morrison--keeping the baseball in his catcher's mitt for the inning ending out. A Defensive Play Of The Game that received a standing ovation for effort from the crowd.
Recently, Nats320 sat down with Danny Espinosa to see how his early days of playing Major League baseball is coming along. With that, here is Five Minutes With Danny Espinosa.
Nats320: Let’s start with your six rbi night.
Danny Espinosa: I felt great that night. Everything was falling for me. I was getting good pitches to hit. I was staying aggressive yet I was seeing pitches and I wasn’t really chasing out of the zone. It just felt great.
Nats320: Knowing the day was coming for you to be called up--still when that day comes--that first moment has to be special?
Espinosa: When Trent (Jewett--Syracuse Manager) told me all my emotions started going through my body. I really didn’t know what to feel. I’ve thought about it all my life, since being a little kid growing up, what the feeling would be like to finally be in the Big Leagues. And when they (The Nationals) told me, I was just ecstatic. I went outside almost immediately. I was shaking almost uncontrollably. I called my parents, my girlfriend, the rest of my family. They were all so happy for me. It was almost a surreal feeling that I was in a dream--really. (chuckling)
Nats320: Where were you when you got the call?
Espinosa: We (The Syracuse Chiefs) had just gotten home from a trip from Buffalo. And we had just left the bus and I was unpacking my stuff to put it in my locker when he (Jewett) called me into his office.
Nats320: Then you get here to Washington and things start working for you right away.
Espinosa: Yeah, when I hit that home run (in Pittsburgh), I don’t know if it was a relief thing or it just made me more comfortable--but I got in the batters box and I hit that ball out. When I got back (to the dugout) I was so happy. All of my teammates have been so supportive--quite awesome actually.
Nats320: But you need to learn the home run trot. You were running around the bases (after his first career homer) as if they might throw you out in Pittsburgh.
Espinosa: Yeah, (laughing) I have never been a slow jogging guy around the bases on a home run. I try to keep a good pace. I don’t want to be a guy that really takes his time because--first of all--I’ve never considered myself as a home run hitter. And I just like to get around the bases, get back into the dugout, treat it like just a base hit and get back to my team.
Nats320: We’ve talked a few times over the past couple of years. The Nationals have always felt you had the talent to make it here one day. But promise doesn’t come without hard work. What have you done to improve yourself to get here to Nationals Park in a Washington uniform?
Espinosa: I just continue to work hard. In the off-season, I stay with my training regimen. This year it was more about learning about myself. What I can do. I had to learn myself as a hitter. I had to learn myself as a defensive player more. And that helped me because when I was able to stay with all that in my approach in AA (Harrisburg)--when I went through a learning period--I was able to step out on the field with confidence in knowing what I wanted to do with my at-bats. I was hitting the ball well. Maybe it was not always falling in, but I was having better, more consistent at-bats.
Nats320: Last year, I remember you mentioning how confident you are with your power at the plate. Where does that muscle come from? You stand virtually straight up at the plate. Where are you generating that momentum through the strike zone?
Espinosa: I really don’t know. I’ve always tried to use my hands as much as possible and try to take a good path to the ball. But I don’t go up there trying to use my legs or jump at the ball. I don’t know. I think it’s just timing and sometimes when you try to do less--good things happen.
Nats320: You know, everyone that plays this game knows--baseball is a game of adjustments. You are not going to get fastball after fastball as you saw in those first few games. The scouts are going to figure you out. You ready for that?
Espinosa: Yeah, obviously, the scouting report is going to go out on me on what I can hit and what I can not hit. But I just need to keep myself within my approach. Up here (in the Majors) you usually get one pitch to hit. You can’t miss your pitch. After that, you have to battle. You have got to battle and try to take advantage of another mistake. Or hit a tough pitch that might scoot through the infield.
Nats320: You and Ian Desmond both have tremendous range defensively in the field and great arms. Understanding it’s still extremely early in your career, where do you see yourself eventually--2nd base or shortstop?
Espinosa: They (The Nationals) seem to like me at 2nd base. They’ve played me at short. Whatever they decide to do is fine with me. Desmond is a great athlete, good fielder and I have fun playing up the middle with him. We both get to a lot of balls and we can turn a lot of double plays. I have a great time playing alongside him wherever I end up.
Nats320: You’ve got some serious range and a rocket for a arm.
Espinosa: Thank you. Thank you very much.
With that final answer, Nats320's Conversation With Danny Espinosa concluded.
Photo Credits--Nats320--All Rights Reserved