Aug 8, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
The Nationals’ season-long hopes of fielding a completely healthy lineup took another blow when Denard Span suffered a setback this weekend in his attempt to return from a lingering back injury, one that leaves his status for the rest of the year in question.
Span, on the disabled list since mid-July, tried to ramp up his baseball activities on the field the last few days but began to experience tightness in his back that he had managed to avoid while rehabbing in recent weeks.
“He tried to push it this week, and he just couldn’t get there,” manager Matt Williams said. “So we have to take a couple steps back before we take that next step forward.”
Despite the setback, Span did still work out at Nationals Park on Saturday afternoon, playing catch from about 100 feet and running sprints in the outfield without showing obvious signs of discomfort. For now, the plan is to send him to the club’s spring training complex in Viera, Fla., on Monday when the Nationals head west for a long road trip.
The question now becomes how long it takes before Span can progress to the point he can rejoin the active roster, if he can at all. His presence atop the lineup has been sorely missed; the Nationals are 35-24 when he plays this season, 23-30 when he doesn’t.
“We hope that he’s back as quickly as possible,” Williams said. “But something like this, you just don’t know. Right now, it’s important for us to get him feeling better and give it another try.”
In the meantime, Michael Taylor will continue to start in center field, trying to fill the void. The rookie has impressed when called upon this season, ranking third on the club with 46 RBI, first on the roster with 13 stolen bases and fourth in the majors with a .391 batting average with runners in scoring position.
“I think he’s playing up to his capabilities,” Williams said. “So to ask him to do more, it wouldn’t be fair to him at this juncture. I think he’s playing well. My advice would be: Continue to do what you’re doing. You’re helping us in every way you possibly can.”
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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