With Danny Espinosa out for at least a few days, and potentially much more, the Washington Nationals called up UTL Jeff Kobernus from AAA-Syracuse after Friday’s win over the Philadelphia Phillies. To make room on the 40-man roster, the team designated for assignment RHP Yunesky Maya, who pitched one-third of an inning in Tuesday’s loss to the San Francisco Giants, serving up Pablo Sandoval’s massive two-run home run in the bottom of the tenth inning.
The right-handed hitting Kobernus, 25 in June, hit .333/.378/.420 in 193 plate appearances for Syracuse so far this season. He’s stolen 21 bases in 27 attempts this year. Last season for Harrisburg, Kobernus swiped 42 bases and 53 the previous year for Potomac in High-A.
Primarily a second baseman coming up through the system, Kobernus was a Rule 5 draft selection by the Detroit Tigers this past off-season and had him working in the outfield to take advantage of his natural speed. The Tigers decided to offer him back to the Nats, and they’ve kept up the experiment. He’s played 19 games for the Chiefs in left field, nine in center, 12 at second base and three games at third this season.
The Nats have decided for now that Steve Lombardozzi will get the bulk of the at bats while Espinosa tried to get the lingering soreness out of the break area in his right wrist, but Kobernus will give the team some flexibility to play second base and left field if needed.
Maya, 31, signed a four-year, $6 million contract in 2010, after he defected from Cuba and established residence in the Dominican Republic. The right-hander never lived up to the contract, floundering every time he’s been given a shot at the Major league level and only posting pedestrian numbers in AAA. In his big league career, Maya is 1-5 with a 5.80 ERA and 1.576 WHIP in 16 games (10 starts). Maya was 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA for Syracuse this season.