WASHINGTON -- After a slow start, Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa has been getting the job done at the plate recently. Espinosa was hitting .293 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs since the All-Star break entering Tuesday's action against the Braves. His overall batting average was .253 with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs.
Espinosa's success at the plate is because he has been able to trust his hands a lot more and hit the ball where it is pitched.
"I've been going up there feeling comfortable. I've been able to trust my hands," Espinosa said. "My hands are quick enough to be able to see a pitch that I want and react to it. ... It probably keeps me a little more steady. I feel better on a day-to-day basis."
Throughout the entire season, Espinosa hasn't let his offense affect his defense. He was outstanding playing shortstop for Ian Desmond, who was on the disabled list because of an oblique injury. And Espinosa's glove work at second base is always Gold Glove caliber.
"To me, you can't allow your offense to carry over into your defensive play. You have to try to separate those two as much as you can," Espinosa said. "Good at-bat, bad at-bat, you can't allow anything to go on the defensive side. If I don't have a good offensive day, I look at it and say I'm going to try to help the team defensively, whether it's saving a run, turning a double play, or whatever."
Zimmerman understands club's stance on Strasburg
WASHINGTON -- Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said it would be nice to have right-hander Stephen Strasburg participate in the postseason, but Zimmerman said he understands why the team plans to shut the right-hander down after a certain amount of innings.
According to Zimmerman, the organization is showing that the player's health comes first. The Nationals have had this plan in place for Strasburg since the Winter Meetings last December. Strasburg is expected to pitch between 160 and 180 innings.
"We are doing what's best for Stephen," Zimmerman said. "Stephen is probably the first person that doesn't want to do it. It's just the way it is. Just like we have done all year, when I've been hurt, [Michael] Morse has been hurt, Jayson [Werth] has been hurt or everyone else has been hurt, we'll get through it. We'll do what we have to do to win."
Strasburg, who started against the Braves on Tuesday, came into the game 14-5 with a 2.91 ERA, and was third in the National League in strikeouts with 173.
Even though Strasburg is an ace pitcher, Zimmerman pointed out that the Nationals have four other starters -- Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler -- who give opposing hitters problems. The pitching staff ranks first in the Major Leagues with a 3.24 ERA.
"We have four other guys. If they weren't on this team, they would be the top two guys in other rotations. We are confident with all those other guys," Zimmerman said. "Stephen is a special talent. I don't think anyone is going to deny that. Lucky for us, he is going to be a special talent with us for a long time. I would like to be able to look at that now and have that feeling 10 to 15 years from now. He is the prototypical ace. He is a big right-handed power pitcher. When you look at those guys [like Stephen], those guys are not fun to face."
Reliever Henry Rodriguez, who is on the disabled list because of a lower back strain, had a bullpen session on Tuesday and didn't report any discomfort. There isn't a timetable for when he will play in a Major League game.
Rodriguez has appeared in 35 games, saving nine of them, and has a 5.83 ERA.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.