Curly W Mailbag: Danny Espinosa
You guys asked the questions and Danny Espinosa answered them. See if your question made the cut.
Josiah from Harrisburg, Va.: What are the 2011 expectations like in the clubhouse? As fans we like what we have with this year’s roster and expect to compete every single night.
Espinosa: I feel that we all believe in ourselves and we’re going to make big improvements from last year. I think there is going to be a lot of leadership in the clubhouse. There’s going to be veteran guys in that clubhouse now who have been on winning teams and can take us in the right direction, and show some of us who haven’t always been on a winning team the right way. [They'll] show us how things are done, and show us that losing is not acceptable.
William from Cloverly, Md.: What Major League player, past or present, would you say plays closest to your style?
Espinosa: I’m not going to say that me and Troy Tulowitzki are the same guy, but that’s who I always looked up to. Troy went to my college and was the guy I looked up to and wanted to play and carry myself like. I always liked Omar Vizquel a lot — just the way he played defense. But I’ll say that the guy I look up to the most is Troy Tulowitzki.
Dustin from Dale City, Va.: Who has been the most influential player for you since you joined the Major League club last season?
Espinosa: I would say Ian Desmond. He talked to me a lot and helped me. Another guy who helped me a lot — who isn’t with us anymore — was Adam Kennedy. I thought that he worked with me and Desmond a lot and was very open and taught us things. But as far as on the team currently, I would most likely say Ian Desmond.
Ken from Apex, N.C.: What specifically are you doing to improve your consistency at the plate? How do you think pitchers are going to attack you this season?
Espinosa: In Puerto Rico, I was trying a lot of different of things. My strikeouts were still not where I wanted them. I was trying different things to get myself to a place where my strikeouts were down. I think just shortening my swing. I get such a long swing sometimes. If I stick with my approach — I see pitches, I’m not being overly aggressive, I’m not taking every single pitch, and I’m in a comfortable zone — I get myself in a better place to hit. I’m in better counts. I think that will really help. Also not trying to overswing, just making good contact. I feel that I’m strong enough to drive the ball that I don’t have to swing as hard as possible all the time.
[I think pitchers will attack me] probably similar to what they did last year — they tried to [throw elevated pitches to me]. A lot of pitchers [threw] pretty aggressive at me. They threw fastballs at me. They were making me prove I could hit.
Chris from Vienna, Va.: What have been your biggest challenges in your journey to the big leagues?
Espinosa: Probably just trusting myself. The season is so long and so many people have good intentions on wanting to help you. No one is trying to make you a worse ballplayer, but you have to [take what they are teaching you] and [figure out] what works best for you. You have to believe in yourself and that your talents will take you there. Everyone wants to help you, but you have to find out what really works for you. Also, [you can't] read too much into what people are saying about you, good or bad. You just have to go out there and play. As long as you play the game, things will take care of themselves.
Leonard from Silver Spring, Md.: What is your goal for 2011 as a member of the Nationals?
Espinosa: I want to go out there and play every day. Personally, I want to play every single day and hit for a solid average. That’s my biggest thing. I want to hit for a solid average and have a high on-base percentage. For the Nationals, we can set our goals pretty high as a team. I think there are a lot of guys that came in this year — [combined] with the guys who were already there who have good energy on the field. I believe that when you play with a lot of energy and play hard, it steps up everybody’s level of play. So I think just by stepping up everybody’s energy, we will have a good season.
Brian from Dover, Del.: What’s more important for you this season — hitting and on-base percentage or fielding?
Espinosa: Right now, it’s fielding. My main priority is to be out there, play hard, have good energy and take care of my defense. Obviously, hitting is very important. We have a lot of bats in our lineup, but right now, playing up the middle, I need to take care of my defense. I’m not worried about my hitting. I think my hitting is going to continue to develop. I think my hitting is going to be just fine.
Dustin from Halifx, Nova Scotia: We all know what you can do in the field, but what can we expect to see from you offensively? Where would you prefer to hit in the lineup?
Espinosa: I came up hitting second a lot, third a little bit. Obviously, I’m not going to hit third and I believe that Ian is going to hit second. I know that he did really well at the No. 2 spot last year, so I’m sure that they will put him back there so his numbers can continue to grow. I feel that [batting second] is probably my most comfortable position, but [batting anywhere in the lineup] 1-9 is pretty comfortable with me.