First reported by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, sources confirm that the Washington Nationals have claimed shortstop Cesar Izturis off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers on this Monday afternoon. Due to the oblique injury of All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond and recent defensive struggles of replacement Danny Espinosa, Izturis will provide the Nats much needed help and veteran leadership as a reliable middle infielder. The Nationals continue to make a playoff push and certainly cannot afford to lose games simply because of defensive errors. To make room, Washington has sent bench player and veteran Mark DeRosa to the 15-day DL with a groin injury.
More known for his defense than his hitting ability, Izturis is a switch hitter that has played on a variety of different teams throughout his 11 year career. This is his first year with the Brewers, after spending time with the Blue Jays, Cubs, Dodgers, Pirates, Cardinals, and Orioles. The Venezuelan has been having a below-average 2012 season at the plate, batting .235 (career .255 hitter) with 2 home runs and 11 RBIs in 162 plate appearances. Izturis was named the starting shortstop following the season-ending injury to Alex Gonzalez on May 7, but was then sent to the DL with a hamstring injury on May 26. He missed about 25 games but returned June 22 and has played almost every game since. The Nationals will be responsible for only the remainder, not all of Izturis’ $850,000 salary this season.
Rizzo’s main reason for acquiring Izturis is certainly to offset the weak fielding of Espinosa since the true 2nd baseman took over for Desmond shortly following the All-Star Break. After accruing only 4 errors through 88 games at 2nd base, Espinosa has racked up 5 costly errors in just 21 games at short. Izturis, on the other hand, only has 3 errors through 45 games at the position. Until Desmond returns from the 15-day DL, Izturis will play most, if not all games at shortstop with Espinosa sliding back to his original position on the right side of the infield. This means that Steve Lombardozzi will most likely move to the bench now that walk machine Jayson Werth has returned to roam the Nats’ outfield. Since becoming an everyday starter on July 1, Lombardozzi’s batting average has hovered right around a decent .260.