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Espinosa tries to get right from the left side


Espinosa tries to get right from the left side

BOSTON -- Halfway through Friday night's game, Danny Espinosa could do no wrong. He had stepped to the plate three times and reached safely three times. He'd doubled twice, walked once, driven in a run and stolen third base.

"I feel like no one can get me out," he said. "I feel pretty good. I have a good approach up there. I know what I can hit, and I know what I can't hit. I feel good."

All of this, of course, came against left-hander Felix Doubront. Once the Red Sox brought in a couple of right-handed relievers later in the game, Espinosa fell back into his old habits and went 0-for-2.

This is just the way things have gone this season for the Nationals' switch-hitting second baseman. From the right side of the plate, he's hitting .368 while slugging a robust .684. From the left side of the plate, he's hitting .191 while slugging a putrid .293.

The disparity is baffling to Espinosa, who has always believed himself to be a better left-handed hitter than right-handed hitter, even if his stats at the big-league level don't support that.

In 771 career plate appearances from the left side, he's hitting .215 with a .372 slugging percentage. In 219 career plate appearances from the right side, he's hitting .289 with a .542 slugging percentage.

Why such a dramatic difference?

"I don't know," he said. "It's been real weird for me. My whole life, I was a better left-handed hitter. It's kind of just a confusion thing. I don't understand it."

There do appear to be some mechanical reasons for it. Nationals coaches believe Espinosa tends to use too much of his upper body and not enough of his legs when swinging left-handed. He's much more efficient from the right side.

"When he doesn't use his lower half, he kind of gets under it and misses his pitch," bench coach Randy Knorr said. "That's what I see from the dugout watching him."

Knorr has been watching Espinosa for some time and managed him at Class AA Harrisburg in 2010, when he hit 18 homers in only 99 games and excelled as a switch-hitter.

"He swung great from both sides," Knorr said. "There was one game he hit three home runs the day before he got called up. I think he hit two right-handed and one left-handed. I mean, it was pretty incredible. He just needs to get back there. He's got to relax and just trust his ability and get back to being confident on the left side."

Espinosa wishes he could just take what he does right-handed and apply to his left-handed at-bats. But even when he's on top of his game, they're two different swings.

All he can do is try to remain confident that he can regain his lost stroke from what he's always believed to be his best side of the plate.

"It's just been a work in progress this whole year," he said. "It gets frustrating at times, because my whole life I've been a better hitter left-handed. I'm just like: 'Why am I all of a sudden struggling left-handed?' Right-handed, I can't get out. I just got to keep with it."

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Max Scherzer thoroughly enjoyed the All-Star experience in D.C.

Max Scherzer thoroughly enjoyed the All-Star experience in D.C.

All-Star Weekend is entertaining for fans and provides and much-needed break in the 162-game MLB season.

It’s not all just for fun, though. Following his start Tuesday night, Max Scherzer shared the benefits of being able to spend a few days sharing a locker room with players from across the league.

Being in the clubhouse, talking to veterans, talking to guys who have been here, getting to know everybody, getting the personalities, you can actually learn a lot from the other players in the league. They’re watching you, they’re watching your team and you get these conversations and it’s great. You’re talking about everybody and you find little things in the game that make them successful and what made you successful and see if you can get better.

Scherzer also didn’t hold back when talking about how great a job the city and his team did hosting the rest of the league. This is his sixth season as an All-Star, so he's speaking from quite a bit of experience.

It was awesome, what an atmosphere. I thought we were a great host team, all the other players in here loved the facilities and the treatment they received - D.C. did it right.

So according to Max Scherzer, the All-Star Game is great, but All-Star Weekend in D.C. is as good as it gets.

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All-Star effort once again proves Washington, D.C. is, in fact, a sports city

All-Star effort once again proves Washington, D.C. is, in fact, a sports city

It’s been an exciting summer for sports in the nation’s capital. 

The Caps won the Stanley Cup for the first time ever and the city celebrated accordingly. The narrative regarding Washington D.C. as a mediocre sports town began to shift.

A city known for its overwhelming number of transients was overflowing with civic pride. 

About a month later, D.C. hosted the MLB’s annual All-Star Game, and all the festivities that come along with it.

And it was a huge hit.

Sidewalks and restaurant windows were plastered with the All-Star Game logo, welcoming visitors to the city. 

Tens of thousands of people attended FanFest at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center downtown. The Convention Center was practically converted into an MLB shrine offering countless interactive exhibits, facetime with former pros and masses of signed memorabilia.

Plenty of locations, particularly in the blocks surrounding Nats Park, offered food and drink specials to baseball fans, providing great alternatives to people who couldn’t make it to the game.

Most importantly, the whole event got a huge stamp of approval from the players. Bryce Harper did an exceptional job creating a great experience for the fans, from his Home Run Derby win to his walk down the red carpet.

Afer his start, Max Scherzer said verbatim "D.C. did it right." 

Several other D.C. athletes, including Ryan Kerrigan and John Wall, were out celebrating in support of their city.

If there was any doubt before D.C. could handle big-time sporting events, there isn't anymore.