Results tagged ‘ denard span ’

Span: ‘It was a tough decision trying to come back and also shutting it down.’

By Bill Ladson

WASHINGTON — Nationals center fielder Denard Span knew something was wrong with his left hip after he saw the back specialist a few weeks ago. Span would later learn that he had a torn labrum in the hip and will have surgery Tuesday to repair it.

Span said every time he had back spasms, he would feel pain in the hip, but the pain in the hip felt secondary to the back spasms. But once he received a cortisone shot for his back, that’s when Span knew something was wrong with the hip.

When Span returned to the Nationals earlier this week, he said he didn’t feel that great at all.

“After the second game [against the Padres], I went home,” Span said. “I wasn’t feeling good. I had two hits. Normally, when I get two hits, I’m in an upbeat mood. I just wasn’t. So I talked to my mom and I thought [having surgery] was best for my future. I need to go ahead and get myself fixed so I can be myself on the field.”

Span said he had a terrible eight months. He had hernia and abdominal surgery before the regular season started. He hasn’t fully recovered from the abdominal surgery. Then he had back spasms that put him on the disabled list on July 7th.

“It’s been a domino effect — bad timing, bad luck,” Span said. “It’s just frustrating, but I’m trying to stay positive as much as possible and try to trust in God’s plan that I will overcome this. It’s just another chapter in my book. It’s all I can do right now.”

Span’s latest injury comes at a bad time. He is a free agent after the season and the Nationals are still in the race to win the National League East title.

“It was a tough decision trying to come back and also shutting it down,” Span said. “All around, it’s tough. I worked my butt off to get to this point. I have to wait and get myself better. I’m fine with waiting.”

Span has been a tremendous leadoff hitter with the Nats, hitting .292 with a .345 on-base percentage in three years with the club. Span believes the trade that sent him from the Twins to the Nationals for right-hander Alex Meyer after the 2012 season resurrected his career. Span went so far as to say the Nationals elevated his game.

“I enjoyed my three years here. … This trade was probably the best thing for me at the time. I learned a lot here from the coaching staff, my teammates. It’s been a good time.”

Nats’ Escobar could be back in lineup Tuesday

By Bill Ladson

WASHINGTON — Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar missed the last two games because of a hyperextended neck, but manager Matt Williams said he expects him to be back in the lineup on Tuesday against the Padres.

“He was available [against the Brewers on Sunday]. He was able to get some treatment postgame and tomorrow. I expect him to be OK,” Williams said.

Escobar hurt his next in the first inning on Friday night. With two outs and a runner on first, Adam Lind hit a ball near the third-base stands. As Escobar was trying to catch the ball, he hit the railing and his head hit a fan’s chest. Williams and athletic trainer Lee Kuntz came to Escobar’s aid.

Escobar left the game and was replaced by Danny Espinosa, who went to second, while Anthony Rendon, who started the game at second, switched over to third.

Worth noting
Center fielder Denard Span was a designated hitter for Double A Harrisburg on Sunday afternoon and went 1-for-3.

Nats’ Span starts rehab assignment

By Bill Ladson

SAN FRANCISCO – Nationals center fielder Denard Span started a rehab assignment for Class A Potomac on Sunday and went 0-for-2 against Wilmington, a Royals affiliate.

Span is recovering from back tightness, which placed him on the 15-day disabled list on July 10th.

Span’s assignment to Potomac marks his third rehab stint in 2015 after stops with the Double-A Harrisburg on April 14th and the Class A Hagerstown Suns from April 16th to April 17th.

Nats’ Span could be back earlier than expected

WASHINGTON — It looks like center fielder Denard Span will be back with the Nationals sooner than expected. Span, who is on the disabled list because of a torn rectus abdominis muscle, could be back on the field by late April. Originally, he thought he would return to action sometime in May.

Early Monday afternoon, Span was doing hard sprints on the outfield grass. He already played two Minor League games –defense only—and will play a simulated game on Tuesday at Nationals Park. He is expected to swing the bat that day.  Span then will return to the team’s Spring Training complex in Viera, Fla., later this week and continue to his rehab assignment.

“I feel pretty good,” Span said. “I still have a lot of work to do. I have to get in real game situations as far as hitting, stealing bases, going first to third. Starting next week, we are going to start doing that stuff. If I continue to get well, I think I will be back before May.”

Being in the best of shape is one of the reasons Span is optimistic that he can come back earlier than expected.

“I’ve taken pride in my work ethic. So I’m sure that’s why I’m in the position I’m in now,” Span said. “I’ve taken the rehab process very seriously. I haven’t cut any corners. So that is the big reasons I’m feeling pretty good.”

Outfielder Jayson Werth was hoping that he could play in the Opening Day game against the Mets on Monday, but after deciding not to play in a Minor League game at 9:00a.m on Sunday, he decided not to rush back. Werth still needs more at-bats and he has mild discomfort in his right shoulder.

Werth is still shooting to play his first Major League game of the season on April 13 against the Red Sox. He is on the disabled list because of shoulder surgery he had in his right AC joint in January.

Werth is expected to be in a rehab assignment once the Minor League season starts April 9th.

“We talked about playing today, but I’m not quite ready,” Werth said. “But we are coming along. It’s definitely progressing. I’ve been playing in the Minor Leagues [during Spring Training]. I wanted to be here today. I have a couple of more hurdles to cross before I’m ready to go.”


No Gold Glove award for Span

By Bill Ladson

WASHINGTON – Nationals center fielder Denard Span said recently that winning the Gold Glove would mean the world to him, but he didn’t win the award Tuesday. Instead, it went to the Mets’ Juan Lagares.

Span is considered to be one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball. This past season, he played 147 games in center fielder and made four errors. It seemed like he always made a great running catch to save a game for Washington. In ’13, Span didn’t make an error, but the Gold Glove went to Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez.

The award is determined by a survey of managers and coaches, which make up 75 percent of the voting, and the Society for Sabermetric Reasearch, which accounts for the other 25 percent.

“I prepared myself for whatever happened,” Span said by phone . “I’m not surprised. Last year, I didn’t make any errors. This year I made four errors, so I didn’t win it last year making no errors. I guess I was prepared for what was ever going to happen.”

The Nationals recently picked up Span’s option worth $9 million and he already is talking about having a better year than this past season. He is arguably coming off the best year his career. He led the team in batting average and set career highs in hits [184] and stolen bases [31].

“I haven’t been an All-Star or an MVP or won a Gold Glove. There is a lot of room for improvement in every facet in my game,” Span said. “Even though I had a good year, I’m not satisfied with that. I want to be remembered as a great player. I’m going to continue to work hard. Every facet of my game can improve.”

Span’s option picked up by Nats

By Bill Ladson

WASHINGTON — To the surprise of no one, the Nationals picked up Denard Span’s $9 million option Thursday afternoon.

Span said general manager Mike Rizzo called to inform him that he would be back with the team in 2015. Had the Nationals declined the option, Span would have been given a buyout worth $500,000.

“I’ll be back,” Span said by telephone. “I’m very excited. I told Mike I’m excited to be coming back another year. I’m looking forward to working with the coaching staff and getting back with the guys and go on another run.”

Span is one of the reasons the Nationals won their second National League East title in three years. Besides being one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, Span is one of the best leadoff hitters in the game. He was among the NL leaders in multi-hit games, hits, doubles and stolen bases. Span is a finalist to win his first Gold Glove Award this year.

Nats notes: Williams to ‘address’ closer situation

By Andrew Simon

WASHINGTON — After Rafael Soriano’s rough second half continued with a blown save in Friday’s loss to the Phillies, Nationals manager Matt Williams stopped short of announcing a change in closers but said he will “address” the situation.

“It’s not an easy decision,” Williams said, following Soriano’s three-run, two-homer ninth inning. “None of them are. But we want to be able to close those games out. Sori understands that — he’s been around the block.”

Williams said he will talk with the veteran and “see where we’re at,” on Saturday. The Nats used nine relievers in Wednesday’s crazy win over the Dodgers and then eight on Friday, so even with a 10-man bullpen thanks to expanded September rosters, options will be a bit limited for the second game of the series.

But if Williams wants to turn to someone other than Soriano, he has choices. Tyler Clippard saved 32 games in 2012, a year after Drew Storen saved 43. Lefty Matt Thornton has saved 23 over an 11-year career.

“We’ll address it,” Williams said. “Again, I’m not gonna let [the media] know exactly what’s gonna happen right now, but we have guys that have done it, so we have multiple options. I can give you that. Depends on who’s available, who’s fresh, who’s not. But we have multiple options, which is a good thing for us. Guys who have been there before.”

Soriano entered Friday’s ninth inning with a 7-4 lead but gave up a leadoff single to Domonic Brown before Carlos Ruiz mashed a two-run homer. Two outs later, Ben Revere tied the game with his only his second career homer, in nearly 2,000 plate appearances. Both long balls came on two-strike sliders up and out over the plate.

Since the All-Star break, Soriano has allowed 15 earned runs, 27 hits and seven walks over 19 1/3 innings, but he said he feels fine physically and with his fastball. He plans to watch video and sit down with pitching coach Steve McCatty on Saturday. He’ll also throw in the bullpen for McCatty in an effort to figure out what’s wrong.

Told of Williams’ comments, Soriano said he and his manager share “good communication.”

“I talk to him in Spring Training,” said Soriano, who has converted 31 of 38 chances this season. “That be my job in the ninth, and right now it not be too easy to do. I have to do it better. I gotta figure out what’s going on right now and do it better.”

Meanwhile, teammates Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche and Denard Span all expressed support for Soriano.

“He’s our closer,” LaRoche said. “He’s done it for a long time, he knows what he’s doing and he knows how good he is. He’s put up some really good years. It’s really easy through a short stretch to second guess what somebody is doing.

“I think this will pass and nobody will think twice about it. He’s just going through one of those stretches where nothing is working out. Good pitches are getting fouled off. The ones that were getting hit right at somebody are hitting a gap or leaving the ballpark. He’ll be all right.”


A couple of other notes from a wild night at the ballpark:

— Harper and Span combined for a costly mistake in the 11th inning when they collided while going for Brown’s fly ball into the left-center gap, allowing it to drop for a two-base error. Brown later scored the go-ahead run.

“It got to the point where I thought I could get it, [Span] called it, and we bump into each other,” Harper said. “Center field priority, of course. I got to get out of there.”

Added Span: “I saw him in my peripheral [vision], but I thought he was going to veer off and just didn’t. I’m pretty positive he didn’t hear me. Just miscommunication, basically.”

— Span picked up his 1,000th career hit with a first-inning single and tipped his helmet to the crowd after receiving a big ovation.

“It was definitely touching, heartfelt, and just unbelievable,” he said. “The fans, they’ve embraced me, really since the second half of last year. It was just a good feeling when the fans acknowledge you for your hard work.”

Follow Andrew Simon on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

A big day for Denard Span

By Andrew Simon

WASHINGTON — A few hours after Nationals manager Matt Williams said he would stick with the scuffling Denard Span as his leadoff hitter, Span rewarded that faith with one of the best games of his career on Tuesday.

Span went 5-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs, a stolen base and two runs scored in a 9-4 win over the Reds. In the process, he lifted his batting average from .239 to .263 and his on-base percentage from .287 to .308.

It was the sixth five-hit game in Nationals history (since 2005) and first since Ian Desmond on Sept. 15, 2011. It also was the seventh five-hit game in the Major Leagues this season and the third of Span’s career — but first since 2009, his first full big league season.

“Those are special,” Williams said of the performance. “Those don’t happen very often, so good for him.”

And good for the Nats, who improved to 13-5 this season when Span reaches base safely at least twice. But that hasn’t happened often enough for Washington, which entered Tuesday last in the Majors in on-base percentage from the leadoff spot, with Span occupying that position in 35 of 44 games.

It’s Span’s second straight season getting off to a slow start. Last year, he hit .258 with a .310 on-base percentage through Aug. 16 before hitting .338 with a .375 OBP the rest of the year to finish within striking distance of his career numbers.

Tuesday showed Span’s full arsenal of offensive skills when he’s clicking. He opened the bottom of the first inning by taking Johnny Cueto the other way for a single on a rare first-pitch swing. In the third, he dropped a bunt toward third base, with his speed helping force a bad throw that scored a run and put Span at third. In the sixth, he singled and stole a base in his first at-bat and ripped a two-run double in his second — the latter hit off lefty Sean Marshall (Span came in hitting .190 against southpaws). Finally, in the eighth, he enjoyed a bit of luck that he might have been due for, hitting a blooper to shallow center field that eluded the Reds’ defense for a double.

Despite all of that, Span said he was already trying to put the game behind him.

“It was just one day. Had a good day. Today was my day,” Span said. “Saw the ball good, and I’ve got to do it again tomorrow. That’s what it’s all about. Whether I go 0-for-5 or 5-for-5, my mindset the next day is yesterday is yesterday and I’ve got to do it again.”

Follow Andrew Simon on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

Steven Souza Jr. returns to Nationals

By Andrew Simon

WASHINGTON — Before Triple-A Syracuse played at Indianapolis on Saturday, Steven Souza Jr. was informed he wouldn’t be in the lineup. Instead, he would be heading back to Washington.

The Nationals officially recalled Souza for his second big league stint on Sunday morning, when they placed Bryce Harper on the 15-day disabled list with a left thumb sprain. Souza was in the Washington clubhouse prior to Sunday afternoon’s game against the Padres.

The 25-year-old outfielder said he feels a little more more at ease this time after his first trip to the Majors, from April 12-18, while Denard Span was on the 7-day disabled list.

“It’s kind of those first-day jitters where you don’t even know anything. You don’t know to put butter on your toast or what,” Souza said. “[Now] it’s more of how are we going to win this game, how can I help this team win, how can I be a part of this and kind of focus on that.”

Ranked by as the Nats’ No. 14 prospect, Souza made his Major League debut on April 13 at Atlanta and picked up his first career hit on April 15 in Miami, a single to center field off Marlins lefty Dan Jennings. In all, he played five games and went 1-for-4 with a walk before being optioned back to Syracuse.

Even with Harper out, Souza might not see the field much more this time around. Manager Matt Williams indicated that Nate McLouth will see most of the starts in left field against right-handed pitchers, with Kevin Frandsen and Tyler Moore serving as options against lefties.

The brief demotion to Syracuse did give Souza a chance to log some much-needed swings. In four games there, he went 5-for-11 with a double and three RBI. For the season, Souza is hitting .333/.463/.545 with two homers and 10 RBI in 41 Triple-A plate appearances.

“Those ABs were huge, just to get in the rhythm of playing every day and getting some consistent ABs,” Souza said.

Follow Andrew Simon on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.


Nats Grapefruit League Notes, 3/1

By Andrew Simon

VIERA, Fla. — Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest between the Nationals and Braves at Space Coast Stadium featured two teams that figure to be fighting each other for the National League East title. But after a brisk first two innings from starters Jordan Zimmermann and Julio Teheran, the game devolved into a sloppy affair that lasted three hours, 59 minutes and featured 31 runs, 37 hits, 14 walks, six errors and numerous misplays.

For what it’s worth, the Nats outlasted the Braves, 16-15. Here are some notes and observations from a long and crazy day at the ballpark:

— Zimmermann was on point, throwing 15 of his 20 pitches for strikes and getting five ground balls in six batters during two scoreless innings. As mentioned in today’s notebook, Zimmermann mixed in some nice changeups, a part of his repertoire that that he has developed very gradually in recent years.

— Bryce Harper played his first game of the spring, going four innings in left field and taking three plate appearances. He lined out sharply to first base, walked twice and stole a base.

— The Nats went 3-for-3 on steals in the third inning, with Denard Span stealing one on his own before pulling off a double steal of third and second with Harper. New manager Matt Williams wants his players to run the bases more aggressively, and they appear to be doing that in the early going.

— Most of the Nats pitchers after Zimmermann had a tough time, but veteran righty Luis Ayala — competing for one the last two bullpen spots — stopped the bleeding. He came in to protect a one-run lead with one out and the bases loaded in the eighth and induced an inning-ending double play, then pitched a scoreless ninth for the save. Ayala is a sinkerball artist who posted an excellent 59 percent groundball rate last season, mostly with Atlanta.

“He’s a guy that can have really quick innings,” Williams said. “An aggressive opposition, ball sinking down and in, a lot of ground balls. So that’s why we’re considering him and that’s why he’s here and it was a perfect situation today for him.”

— Michael Taylor, who is considered a strong defensive prospect in center field, had a rough day after entering the game in right. He made two errors on one play to allow Matt Lipka to circle the bases on a bloop hit down the line and later dropped a line drive into the right-center gap.

“We want to make sure he gets some reps out there,” Williams said. “Today’s a rough day for any right fielder, but he’ll get some more reps out there, too.”

Tomorrow: The Nats are back at Space Coast to take on the Marlins at 1:05 p.m. Doug Fister will start in his Washington debut, and fellow newcomer Jerry Blevins is scheduled to pitch as well. Jayson Werth is supposed to play for the first time this spring.

Looking ahead: Ross Detwiler will start against the Yankees on Monday in Tampa, and Stephen Strasburg will take the ball against the Braves on Tuesday in Lake Buena Vista. That would leave Gio Gonzalez as the one expected member of the rotation yet to pitch.

Worth noting: Although he called Saturday’s defensive sloppiness an “aberration,” Williams said his club will address the issue in a previously scheduled situational defense practice on Sunday.

Worth quoting: While passing a group of reporters in a hallway shortly after the game, Nats coach Mark Weidemaier, who is in charge of the club’s defense, quipped, “Coached the [heck] out of ’em today!”

Further reading: Today’s notebook on also includes info on how Danny Espinosa will split his time between second base and shortstop this spring, the approach Williams wants prospect Zach Walters to take at the plate, and lefty Tyler Robertson aiming for a bullpen job.

Follow me on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB


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