After saying on Tuesday he was leaning toward hitting Danny Espinosa leadoff during Wednesday night's game against the Marlins, manager Jim Riggleman changed his mind on Wednesday afternoon, leaving Ian Desmond in the spot to work his way out of an 0-for-13 slump to start the year.
The move paid off -- Desmond went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI in the Nationals' 7-4 loss to Florida -- but the consternation about whom to bat at the top of the lineup illustrates just how big a problem the Nationals have in the leadoff position.
They don't know if either Desmond or Espinosa can do the job on a consistent basis, so they're left trying one or both of the middle infielders in the spot until one of them grabs it.
"A lot of our guys fit real well in the two spot, but none of them are typical one hitters," Riggleman said. "The thing we haven't really seen is Espinosa hit leadoff. I know he did it in the minor leagues, but it's not jumping out to us that he's a leadoff hitter. If somebody jumped out to us as a leadoff hitter, we might lean more toward that."
Espinosa hit .151 in 18 games in the leadoff spot last season, also playing there for a month in the minors. Desmond only hit there once last year. But without Nyjer Morgan on the roster, the Nationals have no one who's done the job consistently -- and even Morgan, who had a .319 on-base percentage last year, had run out of rope.
For now, the Nationals will mix and match, hoping they get more games like the one Desmond had Wednesday.
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