Danny Espinosa has played through left shoulder pain for the past week, but after going 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts in three games against the Braves over the weekend the Nationals have decided to give him some time off.
Espinosa, who played 144 of the first 146 games, will miss at least the next three games versus the Dodgers and could be sidelined for longer than that depending on what an MRI exam today reveals.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that Espinosa is so worried about the status of his shoulder that he asked Adam LaRoche if the symptoms resembled what the Nationals first baseman went through with a torn labrum that required surgery last year.
Espinosa has 16 homers and 19 steals this season, but his overall production is fairly mediocre (.250 batting average, .722 OPS) and basically matches his career marks (.240 batting average, .729 OPS). However, toss in stellar defense at second base and losing Espinosa would definitely hurt.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.