Espinosa to DL; Rendon, Werth rejoin Nats
In flurry of moves, team also designates Rodriguez, Duke for assignment
WASHINGTON -- In need of a spark, the Nationals made a handful of moves before Tuesday's 3-2 walk-off win over the Mets. They reinstated outfielder Jayson Werth from the 15-day disabled list, recalled infielder Anthony Rendon from Triple-A Syracuse and selected left-hander Ian Krol from Double-A Harrisburg.
The team also placed second baseman Danny Espinosa on the 15-day disabled list because of a right wrist fracture, retroactive to June 3, and designated right-hander Henry Rodriguez and left-hander Zach Duke for assignment.
Espinosa, whose locker was cleaned out, will go to Baltimore to see a hand specialist. Espinosa is also dealing with a torn left rotator cuff, but he is not scheduled to have surgery on either his wrist or shoulder. Espinosa is hitting .158 (25-for-158) with three home runs, 12 RBIs in 44 games this season.
"He is a tough guy. He reminds me of myself," manager Davey Johnson said. "He is playing with a bad shoulder, he is playing with a broken wrist. He needs the rest. I love the guy. He is a gamer. Hopefully he'll come out of this, get back on track and be back soon."
Once he is healthy, Espinosa more than likely will be sent to the Minor Leagues to get his hitting in order.
"We finally put Danny on the disabled list to clean up all the wrist questions that we had, and for him to rehab and then go down to the Minor Leagues, with a healthy wrist, go down there and work on the mental side of hitting," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "[We want to] see if we can get him back here, because he's a guy that we need -- that's going to be a guy that we're going to count on some time this year. So we want to get him right."
Enter Rendon, who will have his second stint in the big leagues. During his first go-round, Rendon -- ranked No. 1 among Nats prospects by MLB.com -- hit .240 (6-for-25) with one RBI while filling in for the injured Ryan Zimmerman.
Rendon was not in the starting lineup on Tuesday, and Johnson would not say if Rendon would play every day at second base. Prior to Tuesday's game, Johnson reminded the media that he has Steve Lombardozzi, who can play second base and left field. Lombardozzi ended up delivering the walk-off sac fly in the bottom of the ninth.
It was just last week Rendon was sent from Harrisburg to Syracuse to play second base after manning third for most of the season. Johnson believes Rendon has the footwork to play second base, although he had some problems completing some double plays while at Syracuse.
"[Rendon] did a crash course with me in the spring," Johnson said. "He said he played at Little League. He must have had a pretty good memory, because he had good footwork around the bag. He transitioned real well."
Rodriguez and Duke were inconsistent in their respective stints with the Nats. Rodriguez had a 4.00 ERA in 17 relief appearances this season and had more walks (16) than strikeouts (11).
Rodriguez was acquired from the Athletics as part of the deal that sent outfielder Josh Willingham to Oakland. Rodriguez came in with 100 mph fastball. He was the closer for the Nationals to start the 2012 season after Drew Storen went on the disabled list, but lost the job to Tyler Clippard in May due to his struggles. Rodriguez would later go on the disabled list with an elbow injury.
"He had a little problem with his elbow. He corrected that, but his command hasn't come back to the point where we felt that comfortable," Johnson said. "I'm sure he will get picked up. It's a good pickup."
Duke, 30, had a 8.71 ERA in 12 games (one start) with Washington in 2013. Johnson said he preferred Duke as a starter, but there wasn't room in the rotation.
"With the starting staff that we have, we don't need a lot of long men," Johnson said. "His situation was very tough. He pitched once every 10 days, and that's very difficult. … I feel confident that he will start somewhere."
Enter Krol, who was acquired from the A's on March 20, competing the trade in which the Nationals received right-handers A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen in exchange for outfielder Michael Morse.
Krol posted five holds, one save and a 0.69 ERA in 21 relief appearances with Harrisburg, with 29 strikeouts over 26 innings and a .157 batting average against. The 22-year-old did not allow an earned run in his final 10 appearances with the Senators.
As for Werth, he missed the last 28 games entering Tuesday's game with a right hamstring strain. In his return, he slotted second in the order and played right field, and his 1-for-4 effort held his batting average steady at .260 (27-for-104). He has four home runs, 10 RBIs and 17 runs in 28 games this season.
Shortstop Ian Desmond said Werth was missed because of the energy he brings to the clubhouse. Werth is also not afraid to hold teammates accountable for their actions.
"It's good to have him back," Desmond said. "He brings a lot of personality to the team. He holds people accountable to succeed and playing their type of game. If you don't, he is going to talk to you in a way that makes you feel like ... a peon. That's just his style. He has had some serious success in the postseason. And he has been there and done all that. He expects everyone to play their best every day, and if you don't give your best, he is going to tell you about it. He is that sounding board that holds you accountable for your actions and that is necessary for a ballclub."
Werth was happy to play his first Major League game in over a month.
"It was good to be back with the guys. I missed them," Werth said. "But more importantly, we got the win, we came from the behind against a quality closer [Bobby Parnell]. ... Hopefully, that is something that will get us going."
Although the Nationals sputtered during his absence, Werth believes Washington will be one of the top teams in the league by the time the season ends.
"In Spring Training. ... I kind of said we might be flat for a month or two, but I have all the confidence in the world in this team," Werth said. "It's just something you go through with a young team. Guys finding their way in the league. We have so much talent, sometimes it's easy to get in your own way. Not surprising. It's time to get it going. It's a good win tonight. I hope it jump starts us a little bit. I'm definitely glad to be back with the guys. It's definitely a big win tonight."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashinNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.