MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Espinosa collects hit in return to switch-hitting

Williams says Nationals want second baseman to have clear mind on the field

Espinosa collects hit in return to switch-hitting

PHILADELPHIA -- It looks like Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa has decided to go back to switch-hitting. During Spring Training, Espinosa was batting right-handed exclusively because of a lack of success swinging from the left side.

Entering this season, Espinosa had a .271 batting average and a .343 on-base percentage hitting from the right side (against left-handers), as opposed to a .213 batting average and a .284 on-base percentage hitting from the left (against righties).

But in the eighth inning of Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Phillies, Espinosa came to the plate against right-hander Jeanmar Gomez and decided to hit left-handed for the first time this year. Before this season, Espinosa was known to strike out often from the left side. But Espinosa swung at a 2-2 pitch and doubled to right field. He would later score on a single by pinch-hitter Clint Robinson. An inning later, Espinosa was back on the left side of the plate against closer Jonathan Papelpon and struck out.

So what made the Nationals decide to let Espinosa become a switch-hitter again? Manager Matt Williams said it was a mutual decision. The team wants him to be "free of mind" when he is out on the field. Espinosa feels he can compete when he hits left-handed.

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"It's a matter of being comfortable in the box when I'm in there," Espinosa said. "Whatever side I'm hitting, I want to be comfortable, have confidence when I'm in the box hitting."

Espinosa acknowledged that he sometimes maintained his swing from the left side of the plate during Spring Training, but he never hit left-handed in an exhibition game.

"We were kind of in the cages a little bit, just to [maintain the left-handed swing] because we were not 100 percent sure [hitting right-handed exclusively] would work," Espinosa said. "So it's something we had to maintain a little bit. That's what I tried to do."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.