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Infielders getting work at multiple positions

Feb 23, 2012, 9:05 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Tony Beasley gives Anthony Rendon instructions on playing second base.

VIERA, Fla. — Anthony Rendon at second base? Danny Espinosa at shortstop? Steve Lombardozzi at third base? Don't be surprised if you see all of that this spring.

Wanting to prepare themselves in case of injuries, the Nationals plan to have several of their infielders see action at multiple positions during camp and during games once the Grapefruit League opens next weekend.

Perhaps the most intriguing position switch would be Espinosa sliding over from second base to shortstop. The 24-year-old was a top prospect at shortstop at Long Beach State and during his climb up the ladder in the Nationals' farm system. But with Ian Desmond already holding the starting job at the big-league level, Espinosa moved to second base shortly before making his major-league debut in Sept. 2010 and has remained there ever since.

Some have long wondered whether Espinosa would actually be a better defensive shortstop than Desmond, who committed 34 errors as a rookie in 2010 and then 23 more last season. Manager Davey Johnson,Read more ยป

  1. gonatsgo - Feb 23, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    This is all just so fascinating to me. Pathetic, I know – but on a day like today when it just feels like a perfect day for baseball…..

  2. NationalsProspects.com - Feb 23, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    The quote from Johnson regarding Desmond is telling. We've long suspected that one of the reasons Espinosa has been asked to play 2B is because he was more capable of making the transition mentally.

  3. JaneB - Feb 23, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    Uugh. I can hear the Desi haters (AND I AM NOT ONE) revving their engines now. But it sounds smart to give everyone a shot at learning things, while the games don't count. last year we had someone get put on First who hadn't played first since high school, if I recall correctly. So, no more of that.

  4. Section 222 - Feb 23, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    Vrrrm vrrrm. Wait, I'm not a Desi hater, I just don't think he's the long term answer at SS. So I hope Davey realizes that Espi could be a great SS once he sees him work over there. At the very least, he's A LOT better bet at SS than Laynce "I played it once in high school" Nix was at 1B. Vrrrm vrrrm.

  5. Marty - Feb 23, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    @JaneB – I don't think that "haters" is the right term. I prefer realist :)If this is what it takes to light a fire under Desmond's butt then good. If it doesn't work and Desmond has a bad year/first-half/3 months/etc. then they have the option to slide Espinosa over to SS and have Lombardozzi play 2nd. Then if Rendon has a nice year in the minors then we can have a whole new hypothetical argument next year around this time.

  6. NasJack in Florida - Feb 23, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    One thing about Davey. He is a straight shooter with his players. When he says Desi is not going to the outfield, he means it.Desmond bcame the starting shortstop 2 seasons ago strictly on the advice of Davey. It's not going to stop the Desmond detractors but for the serious follower of the Nats just know who calls the on fied shots.Davey will relent on Harper but only for the 21 days required to delay the back end arbitration date. After that, barring injury, Harper will be the right fielder.

  7. DaveB - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Desmond has never needed anyone to 'light a fire under' his butt, he's always been one of the hardest workers on the team with strong clubhouse leadership skills that have been cited by various coaches and his GM for at least 3 years now. What has got Desmond in trouble stems from his trying to do too much, both in the field and at the plate, placing needless pressure on himself by trying to carry the team on his back, especially after more established teammates went down with injuries. What the coaches have been preaching to him and what he is gradually learning, is that you can only take what the game gives you.

  8. Gonat - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    NasJack in Florida said… One thing about Davey. He is a straight shooter with his players. When he says Desi is not going to the outfield, he means it.Desmond bcame the starting shortstop 2 seasons ago strictly on the advice of Davey. It's not going to stop the Desmond detractors but for the serious follower of the Nats just know who calls the on fied shots.Davey will relent on Harper but only for the 21 days required to delay the back end arbitration date. After that, barring injury, Harper will be the right fielder. February 23, 2012 4:54 PM_________________________________That sounds right. 21 days without Harper is smart business unless Boras right now will sign a 1 year extension for $5 million. Ask Harper if he is willing to do that to ensure himself a place on the roster!

  9. CN - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    Ryan Braun's appeal was granted, meaning his 50-game suspension is no more. The wild-card spot just got a little bit more difficult to attain.http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7608360/ryan-braun-wins-appeal-50-game-suspension

  10. NatsLady - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    Re: Braun. I wonder if we will ever find out the full story. In the meantime, I am ROFL because this is going to drive the fantasy players CRAZY! (I don't play fantasy but I listen to the podcasts and all their "mock drafts" were based on Braun not being available…).

  11. NatsLady - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    Meanwhile, the Angels are getting off on the wrong foot with their new Man, er, guy.http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/mlb/story/_/id/7602635/los-angeles-angels-albert-pujols-objects-team-el-hombre-billboards

  12. FS - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    You know, just today I was thinking that is Danny capable of playing 3 infield positions except 1B? He has good range, arm, and quick reflexes.

  13. Manny Ramirez - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    So can I get one of these appeals, too?

  14. HHover - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    mltbr, citing Kilgore's tweets, say that Zimm and the Nats are almost done with an extension deal. Good news, if true.As for Braun – the report on mlbtr says that Braun won on a technicality about the handling of his sample (is it urine or blood?). A win is a win is a win, but this doesn't exactly un-besmirch Braun.

  15. Gonat - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    Zim on with KJ right now on Comcast. First question was about his contract and he paused and was elusive. That means it is close to done to me.

  16. Gonat - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    On Ryan Braun, never believed it. I think someone spiked his sample. Doctors said the top line was off the charts.

  17. Anonymous8 - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    Here's the transcript on Zim's interview: Wipes eyes…."Uh, as far as I know, there are no new, I guess new negotiations going on but uh Brodie had been down here. They have been talking a little bit. We still have a couple days…."

  18. MicheleS - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    The tweets going out from our Viera reporters is that it's the No Trade clause that is the issue. This -2012- will be RZ's 7th year in the league (good lord has it been that long). So he wants the no trade to get him to 10/5. Can they maybe give him a limited no trade?

  19. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    On Rryan Braun. How could a sample sit for two days and no one for the testing agency attest to the fact that it was always under surveylence?

  20. MicheleS - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    And thankfully, these days are behind us..Elijah Dukes

  21. MicheleS - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:34 PM

    NatsJack..Totally agree!I think that two day sit and no surveylence is really suspicious. Especially, since they said his Testosterone was WAY off the charts (like beyond even the highest test they ever did) It smells like tampering by the courier.I also want to know who leaked the story? This is supposed to be private, yet, this was leaked? Come on.. someone is dirty on this part.

  22. N. Cognito - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:34 PM

    HHover said… "mltbr, citing Kilgore's tweets, say that Zimm and the Nats are almost done with an extension deal. Good news, if true."Ladsen is supposedly also reporting it, though he might have gotten it from Kilgore, who got it from Boswell (currently writing his "take credit" column), who got it from one of the underpaid security people at Nats Park.Must be true.

  23. N. Cognito - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    MicheleS said… "I also want to know who leaked the story? This is supposed to be private, yet, this was leaked?"Of course it was leaked. It was a urine sample.

  24. MicheleS - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    For all you can say about Boz, he does get some results..News Coverage of the NatsNow if he gets that RZim thing done, we should just throw in the towel and bow down to his greatness.. ;-)

  25. MicheleS - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    N Cog…LMAO!!!!

  26. Feel Wood - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    The tweets going out from our Viera reporters is that it's the No Trade clause that is the issue. This -2012- will be RZ's 7th year in the league (good lord has it been that long). So he wants the no trade to get him to 10/5. Can they maybe give him a limited no trade?Yet another example of the reporters making things up, er, speculating. As you noted, a no-trade clause would only be needed for the last year of his current contract (2013) and the first two extension years (2014-15) because after that he's a 10/5 guy. But why would they sign him to a long-term deal if they seriously thought they might trade him in the first couple of years? In other words, the likelihood of a trade is minimal, so why would they balk at formalizing it with a no-trade clause if Zimmerman wants one? And it's not like they can claim there's a team policy against no-trade clauses, because they gave one to Werth. If there is any snagging point that is delaying this deal, it surely has nothing to do with a no-trade clause.

  27. Wally - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Anyone read Kilgore's article on Laroche today (sorry if this has been discussed,it's been hard keeping up with all the posts & comments)? I know Mark had a post up recently but this seemed like it had more recent commentary from Adam.It sounds like he is going to be a question mark for a good bit of ST. There are still 6 weeks, which is a lot of time, but it seems odd that we don't have a better fallback plan (really mean for the OF, since Morse would move back to 1b). I assume that the Nats must be a little surprised he isn't further along. I think Laroche's return to his career averages is critical to our chances for the WC this year.For NatsJack and any others who'll be attending ST, I would love some firsthand reports on the new guys, Rendon, Meyer & Purke, especially.

  28. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    Boswell is a first class slug.

  29. Anonymous - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    The two positions the Nationals have covered in abundance, Starting pitching and shortstop are two positions that the RedSox are in need of. They don't have a starting shortstop and the come into the Spring with Daniel Bard as their #4 pitcher.I know it would be insane to dream that Rizzo could pry away their CF from them with a starting pitcher and an experienced shortstop but spring training is for dreaming, right?

  30. MicheleS - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    Feel Wood.. take a look at Mark's most recent post on RZimm.

  31. NatsFanJim - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    The loyalty to Desmond is laudable. But can they win a pennant with Desi at short? I don't think so. And I aver that management doesnt think so either. It's laughable that some people wonder if Espi would be better at short than Desi? Huh? did they miss something? Espi made his bones at Long Beach at short — and so talented that he made the move to 2nd nearly a seamless move. Desi? Desi can't field — much. I offer that the official scorer at home was good for another 10 errors that he really committed. Was it painful watching desi field a short hop uncertrain whether to back up or come in — like a Deer in the headlight — and Swoosh — the ball shoots through his legs. I believe this whole experiment with changing up positions is a way to get Espi back at ss — and the competition will be Rendon, Desi, and Lombo at 2nd.this is going to be such a fun year. Go nats!!!

  32. Anonymous - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:24 AM

    PUT THIS IN THE BANK. EARN SOME INTEREST.LaRoche will not produce — get rid of him.Morse back to first where he played a superb 1BGive Rendon time in Left — left 'ain't' hard to learnHarper comes up in June — save some money, Nationals.Espi goes to SSLambardozzi to 2bSorry Desmond — I'd put you at second, but you have neither the talent, speed, nor the intellectual acumen to play second — dump him.

  33. Anonymous - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    And if anybody would know about intellectual acumen, it's me.

  34. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    So finally the Desmond detractors show up in force. How many of you will be in camp tomorrow to discuss this?I'll ne the guy in the red Nats shirt with NatJack on the back.

  35. Anonymous - Feb 24, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    What is it with people who get upset with fans who aren't high on Desmond? There are Desmond detractors and with some reason. There are better alternatives out there. 2) Desmond is not a championship shortstop — doesn't hit wellstrikes out oftenmakes poor hitting and fielding decisionsJust being a nice guy and team player does not make up for his signficant shortcomings.Personally, I think anyone who strongly defends Desmond over other alternatives at shortstop are Baseball Stupid or maybe just too emotional.

  36. The Dude Abides - Feb 24, 2012 at 1:21 AM

    Heu dumb a–. The only opinion that matters is Davey's as Natsjack stated earlier.

  37. N. Cognito - Feb 24, 2012 at 1:40 AM

    I'm not a fan of Ian Desmond, but Davey Johnson is and he knows 100 times more about baseball talent than any of us. That is enough reason for me to give Ian the benefit of the doubt…for one more season.

  38. Anonymous - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    And if anybody would know about being too emotional, it's me.

  39. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    ESPN's Baseball Tonite bus just pulled into Space Coast Stadium.

  40. Anonymous - Feb 24, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    I don't think Desmond's issues stem from lack of effort… just lack of talent.

  41. Kirbs - Feb 24, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Would this involve a Zim move to 1st…..?

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