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'Pressing' Espinosa takes a seat on Nats bench


'Pressing' Espinosa takes a seat on Nats bench

PHILADELPHIA -- Though he has suggested he won't be resting any of his regulars until the Nationals clinch the NL East title, manager Davey Johnson made the surprising decision today to sit Danny Espinosa and start Steve Lombardozzi at second base against the Phillies.

Espinosa has been dealing with a bone bruise in his left shoulder and received a cortisone shot last week to relieve the pain, but Johnson said the benching had nothing to do with that and was instead performance related.

"I think he's been pressing a little bit lately," Johnson said. "He's been swinging awfully hard. I just wanted to let him sit back and relax a little bit."

Espinosa did go 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts during Tuesday night's series opener at Citizens Bank Park, but he collected three hits (including a double) on Monday against the Brewers.

In eight games since receiving the cortisone shot, he's hitting .348 (8-for-23) with three doubles, four walks and six strikeouts.

"The last couple games, it looks like he's been over-swinging," Johnson said. "I know he's an intense competitor. I'm sure he thinks I'm an idiot. And maybe I am."

Johnson also cited Espinosa's career numbers against Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick (3-for-16 with a double, three walks and four strikeouts). Lombardozzi is 3-for-11 against the right-hander.

Espinosa expressed surprise upon arriving in the clubhouse today and not finding him name on the lineup card. He insisted his shoulder wasn't bothering him at all.

"I feel 100 percent," he said. "That's Johnson's decision. So go ask his reasoning. I'd like to know, too."

Lombardozzi had been getting consistent playing time through much of the season's first half, filling in for injured regulars Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Michael Morse and Jayson Werth. But with all of those players now back healthy, the rookie has returned to the bench. He's received only 31 plate appearances over the Nationals' last 28 games, hitting .200 during that span.

"One of the guys I've really slighted the most is Lombo," Johnson said. "He was an everyday player, and probably playing as good as anybody. If memory serves me correct, he was hitting almost .300 and I just shut him down and started playing the other guys when they got healthy. ... His playing time was diminished, and he can play."

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.