PHILADELPHIA -- Second baseman Danny Espinosa seemed surprised, if not agitated, to see his name out of the Nationals' starting lineup on Wednesday, insisting his sore left shoulder feels "100 percent."
As it turns out, manager Davey Johnson's thought process on giving Espinosa a day off had nothing to do with the shoulder injury.
Espinosa, who has been playing with a bone bruise in his left shoulder, has appeared in all but two of the Nationals' 154 games entering Wednesday night, starting 147 of them. Anytime Johnson gives the infielder a day off, the skipper's in for a battle.
"I think he's been pressing a little bit lately," Johnson said. "He's been swinging awfully hard and [I] just wanted him to sit back and relax a little bit. ... It has nothing to do [with the shoulder]. I just felt like he was over-swinging a little bit."
Johnson also noted that Espinosa was 3-for-16 in his career against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, while backup second baseman Steve Lombardozzi was 3-for-11.
"I didn't want to completely shut him down," Johnson said of Lombardozzi. "One of the guys that I've really slighted the most has been Lombo. He was an everyday player and playing great -- probably as good as anybody."
Espinosa has been valuable in his regular spot at second base, but also when shifting over to shortstop while Ian Desmond has battled injury.
Before Wednesday's game, Espinosa assured reporters that he feels fine -- he had a cortisone shot in the ailing shoulder on Aug. 17 -- and it was "definitely [Johnson]" who made the call.
Said Johnson: "I know he's an intense competitor. I'm sure he thinks I'm an idiot. Maybe I am."
Espinosa is hitting .235 over his last 11 games, and .278 over his last six games, with three doubles and two RBIs.
Johnson expects roster decisions to be easy
PHILADELPHIA -- Davey Johnson doesn't expect to have too many tough decisions as the Nationals push to win the National League East and the skipper sets his roster for the playoffs.
Johnson has led Washington to the playoffs in his first full season as manager with the club. He doesn't platoon any players -- they have skilled backups like Tyler Moore, Steve Lombardozzi, Jesus Flores and Roger Bernadina who have been called on often this season -- which means he shouldn't have much difficulty configuring his bench.
"A lot of it is how we match up," Johnson said. "Every club is different. But those decisions, I don't have to make those decisions just yet. You look at all the factors involved. You can change players from one series to another. Sometimes you do that. But if the team is put together pretty balanced, like this team is, you don't have to do that."
On many occasions this season, Johnson has opted to lean toward an extra reliever rather than an extra hitter off the bench. He'll have at least one extra spot to work with, as the Nats won't likely need more than four starters.
"You're definitely gonna have an extra guy because you're not gonna need a fifth starter," Johnson said. "So that depends on the hot hands going in, and sometimes you've got a guy maybe not quite 100 percent, so you pick another guy.
"Just depends on the team. I don't have any platoon situations. I don't have anybody I'm gonna be pinch-hitting for, so I don't need a big bench. More times than not, you need that extra pitcher."