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Span heading to Dallas for exam, won’t play this weekend

Jul 8, 2015, 6:41 PM EDT

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Denard Span will travel to Dallas on Thursday to have his injured back examined by a specialist, and though he hasn’t been placed on the disabled list yet the Nationals center fielder said he won’t play at all in this weekend’s series in Baltimore.

“No chance,” Span said, before adding: “Definitely not helping the team by doing what I’ve been doing for the last 3-4 weeks. Missing games here and there, playing four games. Definitely, I’ve been putting the team in a bad spot.”

Span has now either been out of the Nationals’ lineup or removed mid-game with back spasms nine times in the last month. When he has been able to play, he’s actually been remarkably productive — he’s batting .329 with a .430 on-base percentage and eight stolen bases in 21 games since first getting hurt June 7 — but the veteran center fielder is concerned he’s risking serious injury if he tries to continue playing through it.

“I’ve been feeling pretty good, been active on the bases, stealing bases,” he said. “That is why I kept playing, because even though my back was locking up on me, a couple days after that my body felt brand new. So, I thought that everything was OK. But this has happened too frequently. I’ve got to figure out what’s going on.”

With Span saying he doesn’t expect to return until after the All-Star break, the Nationals could have simply placed him on the DL now. Manager Matt Williams, though, said the club doesn’t want to resort to that move until it knows the extent of the injury for certain.

“We want to find the root,” Williams said. “Everything is predicated on that root. It’s a perplexing one, because 4-5 days in a row, he’s great. And then all of the sudden, it crops up again. So we’ll get him to see a specialist and talk about it. He can read an MRI and say it’s X, but until he gets a chance to see him physically and examine him, he won’t be able to give us that information anyway. Hopefully at some point tomorrow we’ll have a better answer on it.”

Span’s season has been filled with physical ailments. He had surgery in December to repair a sports hernia, then another surgery in March to repair a tear on the other side of his abdomen. Now he wonders if compensation for those injuries may have led to his current back problems.

Whatever the case, he said the time has come for a definitive answer to what ails him.

“The last month, it was kind of hard to tell because I was bouncing back. It was a lot of professional guessing, I guess you could say. Thinking that this is what it might be, this is what it might be. I was doing a bunch of exercises, and I was responding fairly well. I was still maintaining my play on the field, so we didn’t think it was anything serious.

“But, like I said, it’s gotten to the point now where I’ve got to figure out what is going on. This is bigger than today. Hopefully, I want to play for another 10 years. So I’ve got to figure this out.”

Meanwhile, third baseman Yunel Escobar also sat out his second straight game Wednesday with tightness in his left hamstring. Williams, though, said Escobar was “a little better” and was available off the bench if needed.

  1. natslive - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:47 PM

    So you wait for the DL and in the meantime the bench is short for at least the next 4 games? Shake my head

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 8, 2015 at 6:55 PM

      Agree. They need to make the DL move, particularly with the all star break coming up.

      • virginiascopist - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:08 PM

        Exactly. I can’t imagine not putting him on the DL if he is definitely not going to be available this weekend.

    • NatsLady - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:43 PM

      Tomorrow is an off-day. Plenty of time for roster moves. Give Rizzo a minute to think.

  2. Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:05 PM

    They’re not playing til Friday. Still time to do it after his doctors appt tomorrow.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:06 PM

      PS – DL or no, get well soon!

  3. chaz11963 - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:08 PM

    What’s the move though? There’s not a lot of potential in the Nats’ OF prospects. It’s not like we have a Souza or Taylor down there. I think it would be different if there were more options down on the farm.

    • natslive - Jul 8, 2015 at 7:52 PM

      Doesn’t have to be a top prospect but at least an extra player so that you can make moves late in the game even if it is just as a pinch runner or you go extras and need a pinch hitter etc……hopefully as NL states above we will see Rizzo make a move…unless they figure on only using 24 (23 if Escobar can’t play) players against the Os as they’ve already said Span is out for the weekend and hope for the best

      • DavidS - Jul 8, 2015 at 9:53 PM

        Since they will have a DH in Baltimore they won’t have to worry about pinch hitting for the pitcher in the late innings. The bench will not need to be as deep.

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