Danny Espinosa takes advantage of rare opportunity

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

One more day, and it would have been a month, a full month, without a hit for Danny Espinosa. When he stepped to the plate in the fourth inning Monday against Franklin Morales, Espinosa’s last hit had come in June 22. He usually didn’t play. He couldn’t get a ball to drop. He still kept showing up with the same attitude.

“Having the bench role, you have limited opportunity,” Espinosa said. “You still have to come to the field and prepare and go about your business. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, no one else feels sorry. You just go back to work.”

The work finally paid off for Espinosa on Monday. He went 2 for 4 with an intentional walk, blasting a double off the center field fence from the right side of the plate and a triple off the wall in right-center from the left side. Both extra-base hits scored a run. The double snapped an 0-for-27 skid that began June 22 and included 15 strikeouts.

The slump grew largely due to lack of use. Espinosa’s at-bats were few and far between. He became the odd man out once Bryce Harper returned from the disabled list. The all-star break helped Espinosa regroup, “just to step away from a second,” he said. He got his first start of the second half Monday, and he took advantage.

“In BP, [my swing] was starting to feel better,” Espinosa said. “The true test is facing a live arm. Facing 50 miles per hour compared to 95. It felt good to take my swing into a game.”

Espinosa has especially been working from the left side. Batting right-handed, Espinosa has been quite good, hitting .275 with an .831 OPS. From the left side, though, he has struggled, hitting .193 with a .561 OPS. Matt Williams started him Monday in part so he could face a left-handed starter. But the Rockies summoned right-handed relievers late in the game, and in the ninth Espinosa drilled a triple off LaTroy Hawkins.

“My at-bat before felt good, too,” Espinosa said. “I just felt shorter, felt more free. That’s kind of what I’ve been working on with [hitting coach Rick] Schu, trying to free me up. Just see the ball and hit the ball. That’s kind of been the main goal: simplify. When I get an opportunity to go out there, just take it into the game.”

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