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Nationals roster review: Danny Espinosa

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Nationals roster review: Danny Espinosa

Age on Opening Day 2016: 28

How acquired: 3rd round pick, 2008 draft

MLB service time: 4 years, 113 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $1.8 million

Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2016, free agent in 2018

2015 stats: 118 G, 412 PA, 59 R, 88 H, 21 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 37 RBI, 5 SB, 33 BB, 106 SO, .240 BA, .311 OBP .409 SLG, .719 OPS, 3 E, 10.3 UZR (at 2B), -0.9 UZR (at 3B), 1.8 WAR

Quotable: "He's played all over the diamond, done everything we've asked him to do, and then some. It says something about his character." — Matt Williams on Danny Espinosa, July 11

2015 analysis: Very little was expected of Danny Espinosa entering the season, and for good reason. After two straight dismal years at the plate, he faced a career crossroads, forced into trying to give up switch-hitting and only bat from the right side during spring training.

Espinosa, though, never felt comfortable doing that, so in his first at-bat of the season against a right-hander, he dug in from the left side of the plate ... and proceeded to double. A few days later, he homered as a left-handed batter, and thus ended the experiment. He wound up a dramatically more productive hitter, lowering his strikeout rate (from 33.5 percent to 25.7 percent), increasing his walk rate (from 5 percent to 8 percent) and his home run rate (from 2.2 percent to 3.2 percent).

Espinosa also proved as valuable as ever in the field, making his career debuts at three new positions: third base, first base and left field. That versatility and better offensive approach made him quite important to the Nationals; they went 54-41 when he was in the starting lineup, 29-38 when he wasn't.

2016 outlook: So, how does Espinosa figure into the Nationals' plans now? That remains to be seen. Ian Desmond's expected departure opens up a spot in the starting infield, but Espinosa isn't assured of being handed that job (either at second base or shortstop) and could lose out to either top prospect Trea Turner or someone else the club acquires in the offseason.

Though he may not like it, Espinosa does have real value coming off the bench. His willingness to learn all those new positions this year makes him a good backup option for several other regulars. And as a switch-hitter with good speed, he can be used in just about any scenario that develops during the course of a game.

For all the progress he made in 2015, though, Espinosa does need to prove he can sustain his offensive success. He faded some in the second half — possibly a negative result of his playing time diminishing quite a bit — and he still had a tendency sometimes to swing out of control from the left side. If he can keep that swing short and avoid chasing pitches out of the zone, he can continue to develop into a highly valuable player for the Nationals, no matter his exact role.

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.