07/23/12 11:54 PM ET
In Desmond's absence, Nats have good options
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
But as far as other players stepping up, that timing could not be much better.
The Nationals called up outfielder Corey Brown, but the real shift will come with Danny Espinosa playing shortstop and Steve Lombardozzi full-time at second base. They'd both spent time in those respective roles as Desmond nursed his oblique injury.
"Hopefully those two guys can kind of help pick up the slack," manager Davey Johnson said. "It's going to be hard, because [Desmond] was a mainstay in this lineup."
Entering Monday, Espinosa had a hit in eight straight games and was batting .414 with three doubles, a triple, a homer, five RBIs and one stolen base in that span. Lombardozzi posted a 13-game hitting streak from June 29-July 13, in which he hit .340.
Lombardozzi's permanent move to the infield leaves a hole in the outfield that will likely be filled primarily by the hot-hitting Roger Bernadina. As the Nationals designated two outfielders for assignment last week (Rick Ankiel and Xavier Nady) and Bryce Harper had a left ankle injury scare on Saturday, Bernadina has surged since the end of June.
In 19 games since June 28, Bernadina entered Monday 16-for-31 with four RBIs, four walks, six stolen bases and four runs scored to raise his on-base percentage from .320 to .545. His batting average in that time had climbed from .234 to .292 entering Monday's series opener in New York.
Brown ready to help in whatever way Nats need
NEW YORK -- Corey Brown is hoping this latest stint with the Nationals might last a bit longer than the first two, and that he might accomplish a milestone he hasn't yet.
Still searching for his first big league hit -- the outfielder did record his first career RBI in an earlier stretch this season -- Brown re-joined the Nats on Monday, taking the place of injured shortstop Ian Desmond.
"It's definitely exciting to be able to get called up and be a part of a team that's been doing so well all year. Obviously, they're in first place," Brown said. "It's an honor to be a part of it now. Hopefully, I can be here the whole year and help in some way. If not, I'm sure I can be in the mix at some point. Whenever I get in, I want to just contribute as much as possible."
Brown was not in the starting lineup for the series opener Monday in New York, but figures to get plenty of chances since the Nationals are operating with just four bench players.
He's appeared in six total games over the last two seasons, tallying four plate appearances and six official at-bats. He has struck out four times.
He played in three games from May 28-30 this year against the Marlins, when he recorded his first RBI. He also appeared in three games last season, making his Major League debut on Sept. 6, 2011.
With Triple-A Syracuse this season, Brown was hitting .300 with 21 home runs, 58 RBIs and a .944 OPS. He's also stolen 14 bases in 95 games.
"I just try to be consistent as much as possible," Brown said. "I just think this year I've been more positive and have a lot more confidence, as opposed to last year. ... I just try to build off the good days I've had and not dwell on the bad."
Werth, Wang, Tracy continue rehab stints
NEW YORK -- A trio of Nationals continued their rehabilitation Monday, including pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, who looked sharp in an outing with Double-A Harrisburg.
The right-hander, nursing a right hip strain, pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed just two hits, no runs and no walks while striking out six. He induced 11 groundouts, including one double play.
Before he went down with the injury, Wang was moved to the bullpen because of the recent success of Ross Detwiler coupled with his own struggles. Wang is 2-3 this season with a 7.61 ERA.
Chad Tracy and Jayson Werth were also in action Monday night with Triple-A Syracuse, combining to go 1-for-6 in the Chiefs' 6-1 loss.
Werth was making his second rehab outing as he works his way back from a broken wrist, and went 0-for-3 while grounding into a double play. Tracy was 1-for-3 with a strikeout and a single.
Werth is expected to rejoin the Nationals the first week in August, and Tracy (groin) is on a similar timetable.