Thu 29 Sep 2011
On June 3, Twins centerfielder Denard Span woke up in Kansas City hitting .297, his team was showing signs of life and he had a decent shot of being its representative at July’s All Star Game in Phoenix. Life was good, but it was about to change.
With two out and nobody on in the top of the 4th, Span laced an opposite field line drive that Royals leftfielder Alex Gordon was unable to handle. The speedy Span, of course, had big things on his mind. A triple was a given, why not take a shot at an inside the park homerun – there’s two outs after all. Unfortunately for him, the relay from Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar was on the mark, catcher Bryan Pena had the plate blocked and Span was dead on arrival. The collision was hardly violent by baseball standards, but it jarred Span enough to cause a concussion and ruin his promising season.
The 27-year-old would play in just 15 of the Twins remaining 106 games and finish the year with a .264 batting average. The always stand-up Span chatted with me about his frustrating campaign as he prepared for Monday’s game at Target Field.
DZ: For the team and you personally, this year’s been a long, strange trip. Where are you at right now, how are you feeling and everything?
SPAN: It’s been a long season for us, not the season we set out for during spring training. For me personally, it was a long year with the concussion. It’s been so gratifying to be honest – the last three, four days to be back on the field with my teammates. It’s been a good feeling for me after what I’ve gone through this year.
DZ: You mentioned the concussion, which is the big story for you this year….when you are sitting out, it is it tough not to replay that moment and wonder “What if I had slid differently?”
SPAN: You know what, there’s nothing you can do to go back and change that. I’ve watched the play at least a hundred times since I’ve been on the DL. It was a tough play for me to judge because the ball was coming from behind me. I am not sure what I would do if I could rewind the hands of time. It happened, it happened for a reason – whatever that reason is, I am not sure. I am just going to take it in stride and try to learn from it.
DZ: Have you ever been on a losing team before?
SPAN: Not as bad as it’s been this year. I’ve been on some teams in the minor leagues when we weren’t that good, but this probably the worst I’ve been a part of.
DZ: What do you have planned for the offseason?
SPAN: Just do what I always do – the same workout regimen, I am going to stick to that. That’s really it. I am going to pay attention to some the concussion stuff and try to make sure that I put this behind me.
DZ: Will you watch any of the playoffs or do you want to get away from baseball for awhile?
SPAN: When I go home, I don’t watch much baseball. I might catch some highlights here or there, (but) once the season is over with, I just try and move on from baseball for a little bit and get away. Once that little period of time goes away, that’s when my mind locks back in.
DZ: What you do like to do – do you watch football, basketball?
SPAN: Yeah, I watch football – the NFL on Sunday. I am hoping that basketball season comes back this year, but I like to sit home and watch sports and prepare myself for the upcoming season.
DZ: When you have a season like this, it is something you want to rehash and reconstruct or do you just kind of want to put it behind you right away? How do you approach that?
SPAN: I think you just put it behind you. There’s nothing you can change about it. If anything, you have to learn from it. It’s a tough year for everybody, but everybody has to go back during the offseason and look within themselves and remember this feeling of the season we’ve had and come back to spring training with a successful goal in mind.
DZ: Is there anything you can take away that’s positive from all of this?
SPAN: (pauses) That’s tough, man (laughs). It’s tough to take something positive from what’s happened this year. For me personally, just playing this last week has made my season personally. After going through what I’ve went through – all the ups and downs (is gratifying). Other than that, (we need) to try to get a chip on our shoulders and come back ready for next year.
See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Twins players:
September 3: Rene Tosoni
August 30: Matt Capps
August 9: Jason Kubel
July 26: Luke Hughes
July 19: Glen Perkins
July 17: Ben Revere
July 3: Scott Baker
June 13: Rene Rivera
June 10: Nick Blackburn
June 2: Trevor Plouffe
May 31: Phil Dumatrait
May 28: Justin Morneau
May 24: Denard Span
May 1: Jim Hoey
April 28: Jason Kubel
April 19: Jeff Manship
April 15: Dusty Hughes
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