MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Espinosa dazzles at short with twisting play

Espinosa dazzles at short with twisting play

JUPITER, Fla. -- Without question, Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa is a magician with the glove, and it was put on display in a 7-0 victory over the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

In the bottom of the second inning, outfielder Tommy Pham hit a ball in the hole. Espinosa grabbed it, jumped like Derek Jeter and made a perfect throw to nab Pham at first base.

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"That's the first time [Espinosa has] done something really spectacular," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Everything else is kind of routine, but that was a spectacular play. That was one of the best plays. I didn't want him to throw the ball. I didn't think he had a chance. … I tell you one thing: He's got something to throw with at shortstop."

Two innings later, Ruben Tejada hit a line drive that Espinosa almost caught. But his cannon of an arm nipped Tejada at first base.

"[Espinosa is] getting his groove back," teammate Tanner Roark said. "He wants to be an everyday guy, and he has a chance to do it. He'll prove himself, and he'll get back. He did it today."

Espinosa is trying his best to get his groove back with the bat, too. Baker wants more contact from Espinosa, who did just that in the fourth inning. With runners on second and third, Espinosa hit the ball hard to second baseman Kolten Wong, who booted the ball for an error. Two runs scored on the play.

"Putting solid contact on it is good," Espinosa said. "I wouldn't say I was sitting on the change-up. But I definitely wanted to back the ball up a little bit and put solid contact on it. Balls in play, good things happen. Play in, play there, and we scored a couple runs."

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.