Tag: Denard Span

Giants Slug 3 Consecutive Home Runs on Opening Day vs. Brewers

It must be an even year.

The San Francisco Giants put together a dominant Opening Day performance against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park, slugging three consecutive home runs in the top of the eighth inning.

Center fielder Denard Span cracked things open for the Giants, driving in his three-run blast on a 3-2 offering from right-hander Ariel Pena. 

Second baseman Joe Panik followed suit, crushing his solo shot to right field, while catcher Buster Posey rounded the trio out with a first-pitch homer.

San Francisco came away with its first win, trumping the Brewers 12-3.

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Denard Span Signing Is Savvy Impact Move in Otherwise Splashy Giants Offseason

Denard Span isn’t Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton. So if you were a San Francisco Giants fan hoping for another top-shelf addition in what has been a splashy offseason, perhaps Span’s signingfirst reported by CBS Sports’ Jon Heymanleaves you feeling underwhelmed. 

It shouldn’t. Span may not be a superstar, and he comes with a degree of risk, but he’s a solid, savvy addition who should fit in nicely with the Giants’ overall vibe, as Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan opined:

Span’s deal with San Francisco, pending a physical, is for three years and $31 million plus performance incentives, per Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. It’s not the $130 million the Giants invested in Johnny Cueto or the $90 million they gave Jeff Samardzija, but it’s a significant investment in a significant player.

That “pending a physical” bit up there is important, as we’ll delve into momentarily. First, though, let’s make the case for Span as a strong, needed addition to the Giants’ outfield.

He joins a group that includes veteran right fielder Hunter Pence, incumbent center fielder Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco, who has seen extended stints as a starter during his four seasons in San Francisco.

Span supplants Blanco on the depth chart and makes the most sense in center field, where he’s been good for nine defensive runs saved and a 15.0 ultimate zone rating in his career, per FanGraphs. That would allow Pagan, whose defense has slipped precipitously in recent years as he’s battled back and leg injuries, to slide over to left. And it puts Blanco back into the fitting role of fourth outfielder.

Regardless of position, Span should provide the Giants with an offensive spark. His best season came in 2014, when he posted a .302/.355/.416 slash line with 31 stolen bases and a National League-leading 184 hits and finished 19th in NL MVP voting.

But he’s been a consistently valuable contributor for his entire eight-year career with the Minnesota Twins and Washington Nationals, averaging 3.0 WAR per season, according to Baseball-Reference.com. More than anything, he knows how to put the bat on the ball: Over the last three seasons, Span has the second-highest contact percentage in the game, per FanGraphs

Signing a speedy, slick-fielding outfielder, and a Scott Boras client to boot, for around $10 million a season is a notable bargain for San Francisco. And since Span didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Nats, he won’t cost the Giants a draft pick.

Which brings us back to that risk business. Span, who turns 32 in February, suffered through an injury-riddled 2015, playing in just 61 games and undergoing core muscle and hip surgeries. 

Presumably, the Giants will keep a wary eye out for signs of lingering issues when they conduct their physical. But even if Span checks out, he’ll enter 2016 with reasonable doubts about his durability, to which he recently responded:

Impressive tweet-delivered clips notwithstanding, the injury stuff matters. Pagan, as mentioned, has battled multiple ailments, and Pence, once a noted iron man, missed extended time last year with a fractured wrist and oblique strain.

This group isn’t free from red flags. Aside from Blanco, the Giants don’t have a ton of outfield depth, though youngsters Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker and imposing journeyman Kyle Blanks could factor into the equation. 

If we assume good health, however, this is a high-upside outfield. Marry it to the Giants’ enviable homegrown infield, revamped rotation, battle-tested bullpen and face of the franchise Buster Posey, and you’ve got the makings of an NL West favorite and legitimate October contender.

Nothing’s guaranteed in January, obviously. Like Span, Cueto and Samardzija bring some risk-reward baggage of their own. Samardzija led the league in earned runs and hits allowed in 2015, and Cueto saw his numbers tumble after a trade-deadline swap to the Kansas City Royals.

On the other hand, Cueto also hoisted a trophy with Kansas City. Now, with two splashy arms and a talented outfielder in the fold, greedy Giants fans can realistically dream about more hardware, confetti and even-year mojo. 

As Cueto put it at his introductory press conference, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s a team of champions.”

Span has never won a championship, but he should fit right in.


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. 

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Denard Span: Latest News, Rumors and Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent OF

Despite coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season, free-agent outfielder Denard Span figures to draw plenty of interest on the open market as a proven top-of-the-order hitter who can play center field. 

Continue for updates.

Orioles Reportedly Interested in Span

Sunday, Nov. 29

According to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports, the Baltimore Orioles are “among the teams with some level of interest in” Span.

Kubatko did not expand on what “some level of interest” means, though he did add there are “supporters” in the Orioles organization who view Span as a possible option for right field. 

The Orioles aren’t in the market for a center fielder, with Adam Jones under contract through 2018, but right field was a problem area for the team last season, and Span could upgrade the position:

Span’s numbers look even better when you factor in that he played only 61 games, though his injury history is an issue a team will have to consider when deciding how much to offer the 31-year-old. 

Given Span’s age and the time he missed last year, moving him away from center field to a less-demanding defensive position could help him get back to playing 140 to 150 games in a season while posting a high batting average and on-base percentage.

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10 Ways to Fix Washington Nationals’ 2015 Dumpster Fire

Max Scherzer’s expression tells the story of the Washington Nationals‘ 2015 season.

Just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse for the Nats—the biggest disappointment in baseball—they did. A lot worse.

Jonathan Papelbon made sure of that on Sunday, when the volatile closer incited a dugout brawl with Bryce Harper by trying to choke out the best player in the bigs.

Now, general manager Mike Rizzo can add discarding Papelbon to an already daunting offseason to-do list. There’s no way around it—Rizzo has a ton of work to do this winter as he looks to put out the dumpster fire and get the club back in playoff contention in 2016.

The exec needs to revamp the bullpen, re-work the infield and decide what to do with an assortment of high-profile free agents. He also needs to show manager Matt Williams the door.

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Denard Span Injury: Updates on Nationals OF’s Hip and Return

Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span is heading back to the disabled list a mere two days after he returned to the lineup. The team’s official Twitter account noted that Span would be placed on the 15-day DL with left hip inflammation and a subsequent roster move would happen Friday. The outfielder will miss the rest of the season with the injury.

Continue for updates.

Span Out for Season After Hip Surgery

Thursday, Aug. 27

William Ladson of MLB.com reported Span would undergo surgery on Tuesday for his hip. The Nationals confirmed the surgery as well.

Span was activated on Aug. 25 from a seven-week absence because of back spasms. He also underwent sports hernia surgery in December and started the season on the DL after surgery to repair a right core muscle in March.

Span only played in 61 games this season but boasts a .301 average and 11 stolen bases. He tied for the National League lead with 184 hits in 2014 and consistently set the stage from the leadoff spot for the power hitters later in the lineup.

This is just the latest blow in a season filled with injuries for the Nationals. Yunel Escobar, Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, among others, have dealt with various physical ailments throughout the year.

Tara Sledjeski of WFUVSports pointed out how bad it has been for Washington in 2015:

Manager Matt Williams at least acknowledged the silver lining when discussing Span’s latest setback, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post: “It’s going to be that way probably until the end of the year, where it’ll get sore every once in awhile. The good thing is Mikey [Taylor]’s been really productive for us.”

Now that Span is forced to miss the rest of the year, Michael Taylor will likely be his replacement.

Williams mentioned that the 24-year-old has been productive, and a major reason for that is his power. Taylor has 13 home runs and 55 RBI in 108 games this season, but he also brings solid speed to the table that helps him cover ground in center field and steal bases (15 on the year).

The Nationals are chasing the New York Mets in the National League East. It has been a disappointing season in the standings and the health department, but at least Taylor gives Washington an adequate replacement in center field.

Still, it is difficult to envision the Nationals overcoming a six-game deficit this late in the year without their projected leadoff hitter setting the tone.

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MLB Playoff Picture: How Injuries Might Affect Postseason Standings

As Major League Baseball’s 2015 season winds down, injuries have a chance to affect the postseason standings.

Some clubs are counting on potential returns to spark their postseason push, while others face the reality of what a devastating injury means to their chances.

Can the New York Yankees capture the American League East if Mark Teixeira lands on the disabled list? Will Denard Span’s return give the struggling Washington Nationals a lift in the National League East?

Let’s take a look at a major injury from one team in each division and examine what it means for that particular club’s playoff hopes.


AL East

New York Yankees

The division race between the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays is the tightest in baseball. The Yankees lead the surging Blue Jays by one game.

Inconsistency has plagued the Yankees in August. The club is 5-5 in its last 10 games, but the offense put up 16 combined runs in back-to-back wins over the Minnesota Twins in a recent series.

The biggest question mark moving forward is the health of Teixeira. The All-Star first baseman fouled a ball off his leg and had to be removed from Monday’s game. 

Manager Joe Girardi told Mike Rose of Newsday that the injury is a bone bruise.

“He’s got a pretty good bone bruise,” Girardi said on Wednesday.

Rose noted that it doesn’t appear Teixeira can play through it.

“Girardi added that Teixeira is ‘not a whole lot better’ and couldn’t even pinch hit Wednesday if needed.”

Girardi told Chad Jennings of The LoHud Yankees blog that a trip to the DL isn’t out of the question.

It’s concerning. I was concerned when he did it right away because of where it hit. Forget the padding that you put on, but there’s no padding when you hit it off your shin. That’s straight bone. I was concerned last night.

Losing Teixeira for an extended period of time isn’t good for the team’s hopes of capturing a division title. The slugging first baseman leads the club with 31 home runs and 79 RBI.

With the Yankees playing the Blue Jays seven more times in September, getting Teixeira back quickly is important. The Blue Jays and Yankees have the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked offenses in baseball according to ESPN.

With Teixeira, the Yankees would have a tough time holding off the new-look Blue Jays. The club was swept by the Blue Jays in early August and was limited to just one run in three games. Add in that the Blue Jays are relatively healthy and on an 11-3 tear in August.

Without him, it’s difficult to imagine the Yankees winning enough games to capture the division title.


AL Central

Minnesota Twins

The AL Central race is essentially over. 

The second-place Twins trail the Kansas City Royals by 13.5 games, but the second wild-card spot is within reach.

The Twins trail by three games, but injuries are beginning to take a toll. The biggest question mark for the club entering 2015 was pitching. The Twins lost their best reliever and arguably their best starting pitcher in recent days.

Glen Perkins is dealing with a neck injury that’s reportedly been bothering the closer for nearly two months.

Derek Wetmore of 1500 ESPN reports that Perkins is scheduled to receive a cortisone shot in his neck prior to Wednesday’s game. 

He’s struggled recently and has allowed eight runs in his last nine appearances.

Phil Hughes landed on the 15-day DL with lower-back pain. 

The right-hander was pulled from his last start with the injury after giving up seven runs on nine hits in just three innings of work on Sunday.

Manager Paul Molitor told ESPN that he wasn’t aware of any discomfort prior to Hughes’ start.

“Quite transparently, I knew nothing,” said manager Paul Molitor. “And I don’t think that anybody thought anything was going on until he got out there on Tuesday.”

If the Twins hope to continue their postseason push, the pitching staff needs to step up. Rookie Tyler Duffey and reliever Trevor May are being promoted to the starting rotation and need to provide the Twins with solid performances. 

Even though the pitching staff improved immensely this season, the loss of Hughes and Perkins seems too much to overcome.


AL West

Houston Astros

The Astros are enjoying their best season in a decade.

There’s still plenty of work to do as the Los Angeles Angels trail by just 2.5 games. 

The offense has struggled over the Astros’ last 10 games and averages just 2.7 runs during that span. The club went 4-6 during that stretch.

Help is on the way in the form of George Springer. The outfielder has been on the DL since early July with a fractured wrist. 

According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Springer played catch on Tuesday and is progressing in his rehab.

Springer told Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle that he’s nearing a rehabilitation assignment.

I didn’t really know what to do, to be honest with you. I prepared myself for no and yes. I got told yes and it was just kind of a relief. It’s obviously been hard these last six weeks to not be able to play out there with these guys. I’m almost there.

The right fielder could return in late August or early September. His presence gives the Astros a powerful bat in their lineup. Houston leads the league in home runs and Springer offers another threat in that department. 

With seven games remaining against the Angels, Springer will likely be available for all of them if he continues progressing. With the way Houston is pitching and the offensive boost it will receive with Springer, the club should make the postseason.


NL East

Washington Nationals

The Nationals have slumped to become a .500 baseball team. The club is 4.5 games behind the New York Mets in the NL East.

The offense continues to sputter without Span. The Nationals’ .248 batting average is six points below league average. Before Tuesday’s 15-6 win over the Colorado Rockies, the club lost six games in a row and showed no signs of busting out of its slump.

Span has been sidelined with a back injury since early July. He’s been on a rehab assignment with the organization’s minor league affiliates and could return in late August.

Before the injury, Span hit .304 with five home runs for the Nationals. 

Span told Fox Sports that he felt good following his latest rehab game.

I haven’t sprinted like that or reacted like that to a ball in a month, so it felt good considering I haven’t done anything like that in a month. My legs felt a little like Jell-O because I haven’t played in awhile. … But overall, a good day.

His return could provide the Nationals a spark. With Span, the Nationals are 35-24 but just 23-35 without the outfielder.

The team’s morale is low, but the Nationals still have a ton of talent, and the return of a key player can help turn things around. The club has struggled finding an ideal leadoff hitter during Span’s absence, but his return will solve those issues while helping to raise the team’s low batting average.

With the type of talent that’s on the roster, it wouldn’t be surprising if Span’s return sparks a September charge.


NL Central

Pittsburgh Pirates

It’s unlikely the Pirates will catch the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals, but the club continues trying to strengthen its grip on a wild-card spot.

The team boasts one of the best rotations in baseball and should benefit from the return of A.J. Burnett. The Pirates have the third-best ERA in the majors at 3.21.

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that manager Clint Hurdle says that Burnett is feeling well and could return to the mound soon.

The 38-year-old has a 3.06 ERA in 21 starts. 

His return should boost an already superb rotation and give the Pirates an opportunity to win ballgames in the postseason.


NL West

San Francisco Giants

The Giants aren’t healthy. 

The club has multiple players missing from its starting rotation and lineup. The biggest might be Mike Leake, who the Giants acquired at the trade deadline this year.

Leake is dealing with a hamstring strain that’s cost him his last three starts. He was expected to rejoin the rotation on Tuesday, but soreness continues to keep him on the DL and he’s listed as day-to-day.

Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com reports that the club’s plan is to have him return this weekend against the Pirates.

“Each day it gets better,” Leake told Pavlovic. “It’s just not ready. You can only go as fast as your body lets you.”

Outfielder Hunter Pence was placed on the DL on Tuesday with a moderate oblique strain according to Pavlovic. He’s expected to miss a few weeks with the injury.

One could throw a dart at a list of names and find an injured player that’s important for the Giants’ postseason push. Yet Leake was acquired at the deadline in hopes of solidifying the rotation. The organization gave up young prospects for the pending free agent to help the club down the stretch. 

The Giants trail the Los Angeles Dodgers by two games and the final wild-card spot by three games. The return of Leake, among others, gives the Giants a strong chance of pushing past the Dodgers for the NL West title.


Follow Chris Hauler on Twitter

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Denard Span Injury: Updates on Nationals Star’s Recovery from Core Surgery

Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span will miss an undisclosed period after undergoing surgery to repair a damaged right core muscle injury. 

Continue for updates.

Span Undergoes Surgery

Monday, March 9

Denard Span underwent surgery this morning to repair a right core muscle injury,” the Nationals announced. “Manager Matt Williams said the time frame for Span’s recovery is up in the air & premature, but look at 4-6 wks before activities,” the team later added. “Williams said the team expects [Span] to rejoin the team by the end of the week to get his rehab process going,” Washington noted.

Denard Span started having problems with his core 6 or 7 weeks after having sports hernia surgery,” reported William Ladson of MLB.com. “Denard Span thought the pain would go away, but it didn’t,” Ladson continued.

Span, 31, is heading into his third season in Washington. He hit .302/.355/.416 with five home runs and 37 RBI last season, stealing a career-high 31 bases in the process. His 184 hits tied him with Phillies outfielder Ben Revere for the most in the National League.

While big things are expected in the nation’s capital this season, injuries are derailing Span’s opportunity for a follow-up. He spent most of the offseason recovering from a December sports hernia surgery, the timing of which was expected to allow him to work himself into shape in spring training.

With the two procedures happening in such rapid succession, it’ll be interesting to see how Span performs once he’s back on the field.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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Washington Nationals’ Position-by-Position Breakdown at 2015 Spring Training

The Washington Nationals checked off all of their boxes this offseason—fortifying the infield and amplifying the rotation—and now, with spring training upon us, we get our first look at the double take-inducing product the Nats will send out this summer.

Washington has eight everyday field players and five starting pitchers who don’t have to worry about fighting for playing time. All that’s left to decide on that front is the order of the lineup and the rotation, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for compelling position battles. 

This preview is a chance to get familiar with the Nationals who will make the biggest contribution to a potential World Series run, their likely backups and fringe players who may be needed in case of emergency this season.

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2014 MLB Playoffs: Making a Case for the Washington Nationals as Your New Team

You’re a fan without a nation. 

The 2014 MLB Playoff field is set, and while you mourn your beloved New York Yankees from your home probably nowhere near New York, you need a surrogate team. Well, the Washington Nationals bandwagon is accepting applications, and no other franchise makes a better case for your temporary affection. 

The single biggest selling point for Washington isn’t its National League-best 96-66 record, but the way in which those 96 games were won. 

And the only way to truly understand the grit that defines the Nationals is to take an uncomfortable trip down memory lane.

The Nationals don’t play with a chip on their shoulder, they carry around a family-sized bag that they picked up from a 2013 season that can only be qualified as an abject failure.

Washington was coming off a 2012 campaign that saw them earn the best record in baseball, and the core of that season’s roster was still intact for 2013. But the Nationals under-performed from the get go, finding themselves in the conversation for “baseball’s most disappointing team,” according to an article by SportingNews’s Justin McGuire that year. 

The individual parts were a disappointment – i.e. Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg – and their sum was a disappointment. 

It is for that reason that Washington is taking nothing for granted this year, and it’s made the Nationals the most fun team in baseball to watch. And from top to bottom, every member of Washington’s roster wants to win every game. 

And they want it bad.

In a season that spans 162 games across five-plus months, two distinct moments during the summer of 2014 can be pointed to as evidence of that spirit. 

In middle-to-late August, Washington matched its franchise-record win streak of 10 games. 

That’s not the impressive part. 

Half of those games were won in walk-off fashion. The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg calculated the likelihood of a run like that to be around 0.0977 percent. 

That’s the kind of season 2014 has been for Washington. The Nationals are extremely talented, and they’ve won the games they’re supposed to win, which should have been good for six or seven of those 10 games. 

The remaining wins in the streak? Baseball giveth and baseball taketh away, and the Nationals have made good on the former this year.

The other instance that encapsulated what Washington has been able to do this year fell on the very last day of the season.

Jordan Zimmerman’s no-hitter in game No. 162 of the year saw him exercise complete dominance over helpless Marlins hitters, until the very last out. 

Steven Souza Jr. took over in left field before the start of the ninth inning, making just his 21st big-league appearance of the season, and made arguably the catch of the season to preserve the first no-hitter in franchise history.

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Minnesota Twins: Why the Denard Span Trade Is No Surprise

Many Twins fans are upset to see their electric center fielder, Denard Span, traded for pitching prospect Alex Meyer.  

As frustrating this may be for Minnesota, it really shouldn’t be a surprise when considering the history of the Twins, their current player issues and GM Terry Ryan.

Consider the Twins’ Way of building a team.  

Traditionally, this means developing players through small ball offense, fundamental defense, and accurate and consistent pitching.  Note how the definition says the Twins develop players and nothing about trading for or acquiring developed players.  

The Twins are not known to trade for proven players.  Sure, the Twins acquired actual big leaguers such as Josh Willingham, Jim Thome, Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch.  Yet, some of these big league players went through some sort of development with the Twins.  

The Twins even developed Joe Nathan when he came to Minnesota.  Prior to becoming the league’s best closer from 2004 to 2009, he had one save to his name and spending his pre-Twins days as a struggling starter and solid middle reliever.  The Twins do not generally pick up All-Stars; they develop them.

Everyone knows by now that the Twins biggest issue this offseason is starting pitching.  It is well known that the Twins finished with one of the worst starting rotations in MLB, ranking extremely low in most pitching stats (see MLB.com).  

Therefore, the Twins are desperately seeking starting pitching.  They have yet to make an impactful move for the pitching staff this far.  Combine this thought with “potential versus proven performance” and it should not be a surprise that the Twins acquired a minor league pitcher for Span; not to mention the Twins’ abundance of talented and cheaper-than-Span outfielders.  This leads to the final point.

General Manager Terry Ryan.  Ryan has assumed the role of full-time Twins General Manager.  Twins fans are all familiar with Ryan’s miracle-like work in the 2000s, when low team payrolls produced winning ball clubs.  With Span’s departure, the Twins free up at least $11.25 million over the next two years.  

Can we expect another miracle from Terry Ryan?  We will see.

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