With Drew on DL, Nationals turn to Difo

Shortstop made error in Wednesday's game; IF Green called up

With Drew on DL, Nationals turn to Difo

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are officially down to their third option at shortstop after they placed infielder Stephen Drew on the disabled list right hamstring strain prior to Wednesday's 6-1 loss to the Cardinals. Drew was set to be the primary fill-in for Trea Turner, who is also on the DL with a right hamstring strain, but he injured himself running out a ground ball in the fifth inning Tuesday night.

"I don't think I've ever lost two shortstops in a short period of time," manager Dusty Baker said.

Turner is not eligible to return until April 19, so the responsibility at shortstop will now fall on Wilmer Difo, 25, and his limited experience in the Majors. He has appeared in just 50 games across three seasons and made just his fourth career start at shortstop Wednesday.

"It's one of those situations that [is] unfortunate," Difo said through an interpreter prior to the game. "You never wish anything bad on any of your teammates, you hope they stay healthy on the field and you just contribute any way you can. But I'm also prepared for these situations. And when I'm called upon, I'm definitely ready to take a hold of the opportunity."

The Nationals also promoted Grant Green from Triple-A Syracuse and added him to the 40-man roster to give the team some middle-infield depth. Green, a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, provides the Nats with a utility player off the bench. He carries three gloves at a time and can play second base, shortstop, third base or the outfield, and he says he is equally comfortable at each position, although he grew up playing short.

But the job belongs to Difo for now and he had an eventful day Wednesday. He made an error to begin the fifth inning that eventually allowed a pair of unearned runs to score. With the bases loaded in that fifth inning, Difo ranged into foul territory in left field to make the catch, but it allowed the run to score.

Baker said he agreed with Difo's decision to take the out in that situation, but Baker has also been wary that sometimes Difo's aggressiveness gets him in trouble. During Spring Training, Baker mentioned he wants Difo to cut down on mistakes.

Difo said Baker stays on him, whether it be at the plate or in the field, and Difo said he is working toward limiting those errors as much as possible.

"I'm not going to change the way I play. That's how I got here, I'm a very aggressive ballplayer," Difo said. "There's a smart way to go about it and try to limit my mistakes while still maintaining my aggressiveness on the field. A lot of my teammates help me with that and try to learn more of the game, be smarter out there and how I go about learning from my mistakes.

"But I feel like if I change the way I play, I might make end up making a lot more mistakes. It's just the way I've gotten here and I want to maintain my aggressiveness."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.