Difo primed for opportunity at shortstop

Youngster may get majority of reps with Drew, Turner on DL

April 12th, 2017

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are officially down to their third option at shortstop after they placed infielder on the disabled list Wednesday afternoon with a right hamstring strain. Drew was set to be the primary fill-in for , who is also on the DL with a right hamstring strain, but he injured himself running out a ground ball in the fifth inning Tuesday night.

"I don't think I've ever lost two shortstops in a short period of time," manager Dusty Baker said.

has been promoted from Triple-A Syracuse and added to the 40-man roster to give the team middle-infield depth. Green, a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, provides the Nationals with a utility player off the bench. He carries three gloves at a time and can play second base, shortstop, third base or the outfield, and he says he is equally comfortable at each position, although he grew up playing short. 

Turner is not eligible to return until April 19, so the responsibility at shortstop will now fall on , 25, and his limited experience in the Majors. He has appeared in just 50 games across three seasons in the Majors. Wednesday will be his fourth career start at shortstop and just his sixth game overall.

"It's one of those situations that [is] unfortunate," Difo said through an interpreter. "You never wish anything bad on any of your teammates, you hope they stay healthy on the field and you just contribute any way you can. But I'm also prepared for these situations. And when I'm called upon, I'm definitely ready to take a hold of the opportunity."

The Nationals have been impressed with Difo's ability, and his fearless style means he almost certainly will not be intimidated by the opportunity. But Baker has been wary that sometimes Difo's aggressiveness gets him in trouble, and he mentioned during Spring Training that he wants Difo to cut down on mistakes.

Difo said Baker stays on him, whether it be at the plate or in the field, and Difo said he is working toward limiting those errors as much as possible.

"I'm not going to change the way I play. That's how I got here, I'm a very aggressive ballplayer," Difo said. "There's a smart way to go about it and try to limit my mistakes while still maintaining my aggressiveness on the field. A lot of my teammates help me with that and try to learn more of the game, be smarter out there and how I go about learning from my mistakes.

"But I feel like if I change the way I play, I might make end up making a lot more mistakes. It's just the way I've gotten here and I want to maintain my aggressiveness."