Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa hit .103 in the final nine games of the 2012 regular season, then batted .067 as the team lost in the National League Division Series.
Turns out, there was a reason for his fall-off.
Espinosa revealed Saturday at the Nationals' fan festival that he finished last season with a torn left rotator cuff.
He hurt his non-throwing shoulder in early September, but an initial MRI exam revealed only a bruise. Espinosa was given a cortisone shot for the pain. It wasn't until he had a second MRI, using contrast dye, that the rotator cuff tear was found, the Washington Post reported.
"I knew something was wrong," Espinosa said Saturday. "The cortisone shot masked me for a little bit. Everyone kept asking me 'Is your shoulder OK? Is your shoulder OK?' Well, I'm not going to come out and say, 'Yeah it hurts. My shoulder hurts. I'm just playing through pain.'"
Espinosa, 25, didn't undergo surgery in the offseason. Instead, he's been rehabbing the shoulder, and he believes the injury won't affect him in the upcoming season.
"My trainer has done a great job," he said. "She has worked really hard. I've gotten to where I want to be. My shoulder feels strong. I feel great now."
In 160 games last year, Espinosa batted .247 with a .315 on-base percentage, a .402 slugging percentage, 17 homers and 56 RBI. He led the National League with 189 strikeouts.