by Brian Tinsman

WASHINGTON — As the Washington Nationals continue their series against the San Francisco Giants on Friday night, they will be without shortstop Danny Espinosa and rookie Trea Turner, each given the night off.

Both were out of the lineup submitted before the game, replaced at shortstop by Wilmer Difo and in centerfield by Ben Revere:

Espinosa is on track to enjoy just his third off-day of the season, appearing in 100 of the team’s 102 games. This will be his first off-day since June 11. He is batting .223/.321/.421, some of the lowest numbers this month.

Turner carries a four-game hitting streak into Friday, three of which have been multi-hit affairs. In fact, since returning to the Nationals on July 10, he has hits in nine of 11 games, slashing a respectable .333/.382/.510.

In addition to flashing top-notch speed and the ability to set the table at the plate, Turner has shown off his defensive versatility, appearing at second base, shortstop and centerfield. The move drew fan outrage on Twitter, who accused manager Dusty Baker of not appreciating Turner, or theorizing a potential trade in the works.

Baker did not address the issue in his pregame comments, but did foreshadow the move when asked about Turner as a leadoff solution before Thursday’s game.

“I don’t look at it like that,” Baker told reporters. “I just thought that was the best lineup for the day. [Turner]’s been doing well. The matchup tonight…right-handers actually hit Johnny Cueto a little better than left-handers.

“That’s not to say much, but you’ll take any edge that you can get. Tomorrow’s going to be something different.”


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