Asdrubal Cabrera. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

A day after exiting a game early, Asdrubal Cabrera said his right side tightness has improved and hopes he can play Tuesday. Cabrera, a key contributor since he was acquired at the trade deadline, left Sunday’s game after his at-bat in the seventh inning.

Cabrera did early hitting on Monday in Philadelphia and said his side was feeling “much better.” He took on-field batting practice and grounders at second base. His return to the lineup will depend on how his side feels after the normal pregame routine and on Tuesday morning.

“I wanted to give him a day to make sure he’s okay for [Tuesday] potentially,” Manager Matt Williams said. “He came out of it [Sunday] night okay, I guess. We’ll see how he does.”

The Nationals haven’t classified the side discomfort as an oblique injury because, according to Williams, it hasn’t behaved like an oblique strain, which can sideline a hitter for several weeks. “He felt it running down when he swung and we said let’s err on the side of caution to make sure he’s not bad,” Williams said.

Since the Nationals acquired Cabrera for Zach Walters on July 31, Cabrera has gone 19 for 72 with 12 walks, two homers and five doubles. He has played dazzling second base, a position he hadn’t played since 2009 with the Indians.

Cabrera said Sunday was the first time he had experienced discomfort in his side. He felt it on his last swing, an awkward half-swing which produced a groundout after being fooled with a two-seam fastball.

Cabrera said he would have played Monday if needed but preferred the day of rest. “It’s better to lose one day than to lose 15 days on the DL,” he said.

Danny Espinosa will start Monday against right-handed starter A.J. Burnett. Williams said he could give Cabrera two days off and start Espinosa on Tuesday against left-handed starter Cole Hamels. Espinosa has started mostly against left-handed starters since Cabrera was acquired.

“We’ll see how he feels after [Monday] and go from there,” Williams said.