Nats letting Espinosa play through shoulder tear

Nats letting Espinosa play through shoulder tear
February 13, 2013, 4:15 pm

VIERA, Fla. -- Both Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson said today they're on board with Danny Espinosa's plan to play through a torn left rotator cuff and were part of the decision to let the second baseman avoid offseason surgery.

"We meet with him, his representatives, doctors, trainers, everybody, and we say what's the best course of action to take," Rizzo said. "And we make a decision with it."

Espinosa battled through shoulder pain last September, but an initial MRI performed by team orthopedist Wiemi Douoguih revealed only a bone bruise. Espinosa received a cortisone shot that relieved the pain, though his offensive production nosedived down the stretch and through the National League Division Series.

Two weeks later, Espinosa got a second opinion from Southern California orthopedist Lewis Yocum, who via an enhanced MRI discovered a major tear of the left rotator cuff. The tear could have been repaired with surgery, but Espinosa would have missed at least the season's first two months. Doctors and team officials OK'd a plan to have Espinosa build up the muscles around the rotator cuff and attempt to play through the tear.

Both Rizzo and Johnson said today they don't have major concerns about Espinosa moving forward.

"No, I don't think so," Rizzo said. "I think he's come through all the stress tests that we give him, the strength tests, and he feels good. He's a ballplayer. He knows what he can take and what would hurt his performance, and he feels good about entering the season."

Espinosa has been taking batting practice and said his shoulder feels strong. He did decide to pull out of next month's World Baseball Classic -- he had been listed on Team Mexico's preliminary roster -- so he could remain in Nationals camp and focus on strengthening the shoulder but otherwise has expressed few concerns.

"I am happy that he's not going to the World Baseball Classic," Johnson said. "Because I would rather go slow with him and make sure there are no flare-ups from it and he's all recovered. But he looks great."