Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Danny Espinosa went 1-for-2 in his big-league debut Wednesday night.
The 23-year-old infielder entered in the fifth inning, with the Nationals already trailing by double digits, but impressed in the limited time he appeared. He recorded a hit in his first career at-bat, stretching a hard hopper over the second baseman's head into a double and driving in his first run. He also flashed his well-known rocket of an arm in turning a double play and emerged all smiles.
"It was great. I had such a fun time," he said. "It was a little fast for me, and I was nervous. I just had to slow myself down a little bit. But I had a great time. It was just a great experience to be here."
Espinosa will get "significant" playing time over the season's final month, according to Jim Riggleman. Most of it will come at second base, a position he hadn't played in the minors until last month at Class AAA Syracuse but one he said he's comfortable with after playing it extensively in high school.
A switch-hitter with good all-around offensive skills -- he was one of only two players in all of the minor leagues this season with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases -- Espinosa is a scrappy ballplayer who doesn't seem to know how to operate in first gear. Everything for the former Long Beach State shortstop is at full speed, a trait that impressed at least one of his former college opponents.
"He's got great talent and a great natural gift, but he's just a gamer," said Drew Storen, who faced Espinosa while pitching for Stanford. "He's just a dirtball. He works really hard on the field but also off the field. I'm excited to see him here. I was fired up when I walked in here and saw his jersey hanging in his locker."