The Nationals have averaged 23,486 fans per game at Nationals Park this season, which ranks 23rd in the major leagues. Danny Espinosa, on a whim, decided yesterday he would start trying to improve those figures in a direct, personal fashion, one burrito-eating fan at a time.
Around noon yesterday, Espinosa announced on Twitter he would be giving away four tickets while he ate lunch at the Baja Fresh on Clarendon Avenue in Arlington. He usually eats lunch at Nationals Park, but for no particular reason he decided he’d stop at Baja Fresh yesterday.
“I’ve actually met a lot of fans there,” Espinosa said. “I thought that would be a good little area to have lunch. I thought, ‘Whoever comes to meet me first, I’ll have tickets for them.’ ”
The restaurant was pretty empty by the time Espinosa got there, but he gave away a pair of tickets to one guy who had just gotten out of a work meeting, and another to a man headed back to work. The idea sprung from Espinosa’s desire to play in front of a fuller Nationals Park, and that perhaps he could create a repeat customer.
“I’m thinking about doing it more often just so maybe people will be able to come out to the game and experience the games,” Espinosa said. “Maybe with one game, we’ll be able to get more people to come here on a consistent basis.”
Espinosa continued his pitch to get fans to the park after the earthquake, urging people let out of work early to head to the game. (The quake did not faze Espinosa, who’s from Southern California.)
Once Espinosa arrived at the park himself, he took groundballs at shortstop with bench coach Trent Jewett. It seemed possible that Espinosa was working out in order to prepare to play shortstop – his college position – to make room for likely September call-up Stephen Lombardozzi at second base. He quickly shot down that idea, explaining he likes taking grounders at short just as a drill for his footwork.
“It’s got nothing to do with playing short,” Espinosa said. “I got to go out there and take them at short every once in a while because at second base, your feet can get so dead. You got to move around. I think a lot of second baseman throughout the league go to short to take their groundballs just to keep their feet alive. It’s just to keep my feet alive.”