Twice this year, once during spring training and again early in the season, Manager Jim Riggleman had a prophetic conversation with second baseman Danny Espinosa. He told, “You’re glove is what’s going to keep you in the big leagues early on here.” And then he let Espinosa know “there’s going to be ups and downs” with his offense.
The realities of playing every day as a rookie, then, have caught up to Espinosa. Entering tonight’s game, he is 3 for his last 32, all three hits singles. He began the season 9 for 32, with three doubles and a home run. But he’s hit a slump that, for a rookie, is virtually inevitable.
“Particularly form the left side, he’s going through some thing right now,” Riggleman said. “He realizes he’s got to make some changes. The league adjusts to you, and now, sometimes, you have to adjust back to the league. He’s going to go through that.”
Yesterday, Riggleman and hitting coach Rick Eckstein spoke about Espinosa’s recent issue, particularly when he hits from the left side of the plate, as he will tonight against Phillies right-hander Vance Worley. Eckstein instructed Espinosa to make an adjustment with his swing, which “we’re really kind of anxious to see tonight, if it takes hold,” Riggleman said. “He’s working at it.”
This spring, Espinosa explained that last season, after his call-up, he put too much pressure on himself to reach base in the leadoff spot, which led to anxious at-bats. He vowed he wouldn’t do that this season, but in a small sample size he’s been scuffling while batting first. Since Espinosa moved into the leadoff hole, Espinosa is 12 for 64 (.188) with just two walks, though he has been hit by three pitches.
Riggleman compared Espinosa’s recent struggles to what Ian Desmond endured last year. With a larger body of work, teams have had chances to learn more about Espinosa and find more effective ways to pitch to him.
“They make adjustments,” Riggleman said “You have to make adjustments to them, and that’s what Danny is going to do.”