WASHINGTON -- Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa will have the hook of the hamate bone removed from his right hand on Wednesday at the Curtis National Hand Center in Baltimore.

Espinosa's hand began bothering him last week while playing for Leones de Ponce of the Puerto Rican Winter League. He is expected to be healthy in six weeks and ready for Spring Training.

"The doctor looked at the MRI and said it was an old break," Espinosa said via phone. "He couldn't put an exact date on when I broke it. I can't think of when I hurt my hand in the last two years.

"I took a swing [against Criollos de Caguas last week] and something felt funny in my hand. I took a couple of seconds out of the box, took my time, took my at-bat, played defense. I felt a little shock in my hand and that was it."

For Ponce, Espinosa went 25-for-89 (.281) with two home runs, eight RBIs and 17 runs scored. His best game came last week, when he hit for the cycle in a 10-2 victory over Gigantes de Carolina.

For now, the plan is to have Espinosa become the Opening Day second baseman in 2011, as he brings the athleticism that general manager Mike Rizzo seeks. Espinosa is an excellent defensive second baseman, and his glove alone would save the team a lot of runs.