Span’s home run drought finally ends

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

It took 105 games, but Nationals center fielder Denard Span finally hit a home run in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Mets.

After Ian Desmond hit a two-out bomb in the second inning, Span followed with a homer of his own on the very next pitch. The ball flew high into the air and barely cleared the right field wall.

“He swung at the first pitch. We all about fell out on the bench,” manager Davey Johnson joked.

Johnson said that batting Span seventh has allowed the center fielder to be more aggressive at the plate, and Span agreed. He said that instead of taking pitches and getting a feel for the opposing pitcher, he can instead concentrate on getting a good pitch and putting it in play.

“By the time I get up there, I’ve already seen six guys hit,” Span explained. “So, I already have a good idea of what that pitcher’s doing. When I get up there, if they’re going to throw me a first-pitch fastball, I’m going to swing. It’s different when I’m leading off, I try to see as many pitches as possible but hitting seventh there’s really no rules.”

As Span’s home run cleared the wall, he cruised around the bases, basking in the glory of his first home run in 422 plate appearances this season.

“Felt good to get the monkey off my back,” he said, smiling. “It hasn’t taken this long to hit a home run in a while. Probably since A-ball. But it felt good.

“My home run trot was definitely a little rusty. I think I stutter-stepped around third. I was just trying not to fall.”

Span touched home plate and jogged to the dugout, where he exchanged some emphatic high fives with teammates.

“Denard’s got some pop, so it was good to see him do that,” Bryce Harper said. “Hopefully he doesn’t get too cocky and stay a little humble.”

“I tell you what, after hitting one today it felt like I might hit 30 for the rest of the season,” Span said jokingly. “So you guys watch out for me.”

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