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Danny Espinosa will play through torn rotator cuff

Jan 26, 2013, 9:46 PM EDT

Danny Espinosa, Allen Craig Reuters

Rather than undergo surgery that likely would have cost him at least April and May, Danny Espinosa has decided to play through a torn left rotator cuff he believes he originally sustained in September,’s Mark Zuckerman reports.

Espinosa was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise after diving for a ball on Sept. 7.

“I knew something was wrong,” he said. “The cortisone shot masked me for a little bit, and everybody kept asking me: “Is your shoulder OK? Is your shoulder OK?’ I’m not going to come out and say, ‘Yeah, I’m hurt. My shoulder hurts. I’m just playing through pain.’ But there was something wrong.”

Espinosa struggled offensively over the rest of the season and only learned about two weeks after the Nationals were eliminated from the playoffs that he had a tear. He’s since worked to build up the muscles around his rotator cuff, and he resumed swinging on Jan. 1.

“My swing feels really good, better than it did last year,” he said. “I’m really confident in my swing right now. Maybe it’s because I have the confidence that my shoulder’s alright. But I do feel really good.”

Espinosa is set to remain the Nationals’ starting second baseman this season, but if the shoulder becomes a problem again, the team does have a quality fallback in Steve Lombardozzi.

  1. steelers88 - Jan 26, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    If I was a Nats fan I would want Espinosa to get the surgery. I’d rather have him miss some of April than losing him for most or all the season.

    • biasedhomer - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:22 AM

      Agreed I’d rather have a player close to 100% for the playoffs rather than say 80% for the entire season.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Jan 27, 2013 at 2:09 AM

      I guess I didn’t make it clear, but that was then: if he had the surgery when it was originally diagnosed, he probably would have missed April and part or all of May. If he had it now, three months later, he’d likely be out until August or September.

  2. romoscollarbone - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    i tore my rotator cuff first day of practice for an 18 game baseball season. it was painful to swing and miss and got progressively worse to the point it would just slide out of place noy really dislocated. im not an orthopedist but id reccomend surgery.

    • cur68 - Jan 27, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      That’s pretty unfortunate for you. Keeping in mind that the cuff is a group of muscles and tendons and not a single muscle, it depends on what you tore. It sounds like you tore something (or somethings) pretty important and then progressively worsened the tear with swinging at baseballs. Its sometimes hard to tell what to do from the outset of the injury but almost always, once the tear is confirmed, rest and re-hab to strengthen supporting muscles is preferable to whatever you were doing when you injured the cuff. Then, depending on how badly you messed up the joint, surgery might be discussed and that would depend on progress from the re-hab.

      Espinosa did a similar thing: playing with the injury. Clearly, though, his tear wasn’t as bad as yours and he likely has much stronger supporting shoulder muscles than you do, hence he was able to compensate without suffering dislocation.

      Many of the orthopods I’ve worked with would say that surgery is not the go-to option these days. Long term risks are a virtual guarantee of early arthritis to the shoulder requiring more surgery. The re-hab route Espinosa’s selected might see him never require surgery: the tear could be discrete to one component of the cuff, relatively small or both. It could heal with strong supporting muscles and therapy. Given that he could play with the tear being called a bruise and he STILL hasn’t required surgery, he might get away with this.

  3. mashoaf - Jan 27, 2013 at 1:22 AM

    He risks the rotator cuff fully tearing and his biceps falling down his arm… Don’t be a tough guy Espinosa, get the surgery!

  4. muckthefets23 - Jan 27, 2013 at 3:36 AM

    10 bucks says he’s on the shelf before the season starts and misses the first half maybe more depending on the severity.

  5. mungman69 - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:45 AM

    Yeah, he should go under the knife.

  6. natslady - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    On topic: Sort of glad Danny is playing in the WBC. Will find out one way or the other if he is up to competitive level play. The worst of both worlds is he plays for April and May, costs us games, and then is out for the season. This is nothing against Lombardozzi and Rendon, but let’s find out NOW if Danny can have his usual great D, and up his game at the plate.

    Off-topic: I love me some Jordan Zimmermann, who is FEARLESS when it comes to arbitration. This could be the one that Rizzo loses–Nats have not lost in arbitration in the Rizzo era if I recall correctly. Most guys don’t want to go to arbitration hearings, with all the negative stuff thrown at them. Now, given he will be making millions either way, here is JZ on the subject,

    ” It’s a fun little process to be involved in. It’s pretty interesting.”

    Nerves of steel. Yeah, I want this guy pitching Game 3 in the World Series! Maybe even more!!!

  7. paperlions - Jan 27, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    It really depends on how bad the tear was. MOST rotator cuff tears will heal on their own over the course of a few months, helped along with some PT. If the tear wasn’t bad, he should be fine, and it should get better as the season progresses.

  8. unclemosesgreen - Jan 27, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    This is just so embarrassing for so many commenters, and it has happened so much on this messageboard that I’m officially declaring it a meme. People – if you don’t have 1) medical training; AND 2) access to a players medical records; please please for the love of Christ, PLEASE stop weighing in with your medical “opinions.” I know the Jerry Springer show has emboldened morons worldwide, but please start trying to show yourself a little respect, and stop arguing with team doctors. It’s pathetic and you’re all making me sad. Just stop it.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      I’m not a real doctor, but I play one on a blog…

  9. schmedley69 - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    I take it that he’s not a Scott Boras client? Otherwise he would be shutdown for the year.

    • natslady - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      As far as I know, yes, Danny Espinosa is represented by Scott Boras. He was when he was drafted and I don’t recall hearing that he changed agents.

  10. indaburg - Jan 27, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    In related news, the Diamondbacks have expressed interest in Espinosa. Playing through a torn rotator cuff makes him gritty enough.

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