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Espinosa not bothered by trade speculation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa said Monday night that he is not bothered by the trade rumors that have him linked to the Rays.

Espinosa understands the Nats are looking to get even better after winning their first National League East title. They could use him as a trade chip to land a starting pitcher such as right-hander James Shields.

"I don't know what to think as far as getting traded. I've never been traded, but I know the business," Espinosa said via telephone. "If the Nationals need to make upgrades and they want to get rid of me ... in order to make the team better, I understand it. The Nationals are a great team with great management. Mike Rizzo is an unbelievable GM, but baseball is baseball. Like I said, it's a business."

If he is traded to the Rays, Espinosa would be reunited with third baseman Evan Longoria. The two played college ball together at Long Beach State. A Gold Glove-caliber second baseman, Espinosa more than likely will play shortstop, his natural position. He has already played 38 games at short during his big league career.

"I'm not going to get ahead of myself and say that I fit perfectly for [the Rays], be the right guy," Espinosa said. "But if it happens, I'm willing to talk about it. As of now, I'm still a Washington National."

This past season, the switch-hitting Espinosa played 160 games and hit .247 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs. Espinosa was more successful from the right side of the plate and is the first to say that he needs to improve from the left side of the plate. He hit .233 and struck out 141 times against right-handers.

"I have to make adjustments as far as being able to use my hands as a hitter," Espinosa said. "[In the past], I was always using my hands and never tried to do to too much with the ball. The last couple of years, I really got too pull conscious, which is not a good deal. I'm not trying to pull every single ball. ... I've missed pitches and I've dealt with an injury [shoulder] that kind of made things a little tougher.

"I never like to use that as an excuse, but when I come back healthy this Spring Training, I'll be 100 percent, continue to work hard and work on putting the ball in play. I just have to simplify my swing. The more I simplify my swing, I feel like I'm strong enough to ... hit my home runs and do what I'm supposed to do."

Washington Nationals, Danny Espinosa