The Baseball Page: May 26, 2013

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Orioles,Brian McNally

Nationals report

The Nationals are going to ride it out with struggling second baseman Danny Espinosa.

There aren't that many other options at this point even after the team announced on Friday that Espinosa has been playing with a fractured right wrist. He won't go on the disabled list immediately, so maybe a little rest this weekend will help. But Espinosa was testing everyone's patience with a 1-for-33 skid on the recent 10-game road trip that dropped his batting average to .159.

Utility man Steve Lombardozzi can fill in for short bursts, but has yet to prove he's an impact player. That would pull him out of his normal role anyway as Davey Johnson's jack of all trades. The organization could try to use top prospect Anthony Rendon at that spot.

But while he did briefly play for an injured Ryan Zimmerman at third base earlier this year, second base is a position Rendon has only recently experimented with at Double-A. It's clear the Nats want to get him some experience there. But with his history of ankle injuries, it's certainly not the safest place on the diamond for Rendon. No one knows if he could hold up there. For now -- once he's healthy again -- Espinosa is safe.

MLB storylines

1Dodger black and blue » Don Mattingly unleashed an outburst this week that usually gets managers fired. Unhappy with the play of outfielder Andre Ethier, a frustrated Dodgers manager also took a shot at the "All-Star" compilation of his roster. The insinuation was the front office tried to bring in too many stars the last 12 months and not enough quality role players. But instead of a pink slip, general manager Ned Colletti and team president Stan Kasten offered their support and encouraged Mattingly to be more vocal in the future. Los Angeles went into the weekend in last place in the NL West.

2Cooking with Gaus » The Orioles have seen this move work before. Why not try it again? Baltimore promoted top prospect Manny Machado last summer and plugged a gaping hole at third base en route to a playoff berth. Now it has added Kevin Gausman to a struggling, injury-depleted rotation. The No. 4 pick in the 2012 draft out of LSU, Gausman made his debut at Toronto on Thursday and held up reasonably well after a promotion from Double-A. He can hit 99 on the radar gun and has a vicious change-up, too. His next start should be on Tuesday against the Nats.

3Indian summer » A hot start before Memorial Day leads to raised expectations for the Cleveland Indians and then a quick fade once the calendar flips to June. It's been that way a few times since their last playoff appearance in 2007. But under new manager Terry Francona, the Indians are showing signs that this time is no fluke. They entered the weekend with 22 wins in their previous 31 games. The starting rotation has been better than expected, the defense behind those pitchers excellent and five batters have an OPS of .829 or higher. There's a reason Cleveland is neck-and-neck with the Detroit Tigers, who came into the year widely expected to win the AL Central.

Who's hot?

1. Mike Trout » The Angels sophomore is hitting .302 with 10 homers and 10 steals entering Friday.

2.

Wandy Rodriguez » The left-hander has won three consecutive starts for the surprising Pirates.

3.

Hisashi Iwakuma » Untouchable stuff: 2.37 ERA, 0.87 WHIP for the Mariners righty so far this year.

Who's not?

1. Billy Butler » The Royals designated hitter entered Friday with one RBI in his last seven games.

2.

Justin Verlander » Surprising stretch of three straight starts with four-plus runs allowed for the Tigers ace.

3.

Edwin Jackson » The ex-Nationals righty is 1-8 with a 6.11 ERA for the Cubs this year.

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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