Danny Espinosa will play through torn rotator cuff

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Rather than undergo surgery that likely would have cost him at least April and May, Danny Espinosa has decided to play through a torn left rotator cuff he believes he originally sustained in September, CSNWashington.com’s Mark Zuckerman reports.

Espinosa was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise after diving for a ball on Sept. 7.

“I knew something was wrong,” he said. “The cortisone shot masked me for a little bit, and everybody kept asking me: “Is your shoulder OK? Is your shoulder OK?’ I’m not going to come out and say, ‘Yeah, I’m hurt. My shoulder hurts. I’m just playing through pain.’ But there was something wrong.”

Espinosa struggled offensively over the rest of the season and only learned about two weeks after the Nationals were eliminated from the playoffs that he had a tear. He’s since worked to build up the muscles around his rotator cuff, and he resumed swinging on Jan. 1.

“My swing feels really good, better than it did last year,” he said. “I’m really confident in my swing right now. Maybe it’s because I have the confidence that my shoulder’s alright. But I do feel really good.”

Espinosa is set to remain the Nationals’ starting second baseman this season, but if the shoulder becomes a problem again, the team does have a quality fallback in Steve Lombardozzi.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.