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Putting the No in Danny Espinosa

By Tim Heaney

Washington Nationals 2B Anthony Rendon
It's a stretch, but....

As if the Washington Nationals' Danny Espinosa didn't already scare fantasy baseball players.... First, he grows a sketchy beard. Then he passes along even more disturbing news.

Before looking sluggish in the postseason, he was on a late-summer tear. In this case, "tear" is not just a clever name: What he thought was a bone bruise bothering him over the final two months turned out to be a left rotator cuff that's nearly completely removed from the bone. And instead of going under the knife, he's been building up strength of the surrounding muscles. The soon-to-be 26-year-old told the media he aims to start spring training on time.

My fake fantasy degree, unfortunately, yields little knowledge of inner anatomy workings. (For the curious, it's actually a double major: pop culture references - bonus points if you picked out the nod in the previous paragraph - and annoying puns.) Ergo, I'm guessing there's a medically sound - or at least moderately safe - way to accomplish what Espinosa is attempting.

But what if it bugs him again during the season? His season looks quite ready to be torn to pieces. He was already slated to compete for the right to hang on to the second base job with the versatile Steve Lombardozzi, so there was already added risk to his value.

My dalliance with the contact-crippled Espinosa at Tout Wars mixed 2011 has dissipated. You can only bide time with his Adam Dunn-like suffocation for so long, even if he does give you 20-20ish numbers. With these new red flags ... he'd have to cost pennies in redrafts for me to feign interest.

This isn't a recommendation of the safe but boring secondary option, but it gives NL-only pickers more reason to settle for Lombardozzi ... if they're into that sort of thing. Don't be surprised if Washington even finds another option if Espinosa were to miss time so they keep Lombardozzi in a utility role.

Maybe a similarly built but slightly more intriguing player, farmhand Zach Walters, would get a shot at some reps. A loooooonnnnnger shot (even for the youthful Nats) may involve an extended Anthony Rendon trial if he plays his way into it.

Point is, don't make Espinosa anything more than a mixed complement, and you can't assume Lombardozzi will pick up the slack without competition if Espinosa were to miss significant time.

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