Danny Espinosa will begin his rehab assignment Thursday at Class AAA Syracuse and is expected to play three innings in his first game, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said. After playing for nearly six weeks with what was later discovered as a fractured right wrist, Espinosa is expected to ramp up his play time by two innings until he reaches a full game. The Nationals are eager to see how Espinosa responds to the most recent round of treatment and rest.
Espinosa, who was hit by the pitch on April 14, already began baseball activities after receiving a cortisone shot in his wrist last week. He landed on the disabled list June 4 and will have rested nine days when he returns Thursday.
Espinosa missed five games while resting his wrist after the discovery of the fracture and bone chip May 29. Knowing he wouldn’t be able to play with a fully healed wrist for the rest of the season, Espinosa played in four games and went 1 for 13 with four strikeouts before the Nationals convinced him to land on the disabled list.
Already playing with a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder that he rehabbed all winter, Espinosa’s performance offered pretty convincing evidence that had been compromised by injuries. He was hitting .158/.193/.272, with zero extra-base hits in his previous 58 plate appearances.
Johnson said Espinosa’s wrist has responded well to the recent round of treatment and he will play every day at Syracuse while he recovers. The Nationals hoped that the rehab stint would also allow Espinosa to work on his struggles at the plate. An MRI that required a dye injected into the shoulder didn’t reveal any worsening of the injury, Johnson said. The Nationals seem more concerned about Espinosa’s wrist than shoulder.
Johnson said Espinosa would play at Syracuse but wouldn’t commit to anything beyond that. The Nationals have said they hope to have Espinosa back this season and they have wiggle room; a rehab assignment for position players last 20 days.