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Setback keeps Span on the outside looking in

Aug 8, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

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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.”

  1. rayvil01 - Aug 8, 2015 at 5:50 PM

    I’m afraid the walk year guys are going to ser an unofficial record for most money lost in a single season. Amazing.

    • veejh - Aug 8, 2015 at 6:09 PM

      For real.

  2. rlndtln - Aug 8, 2015 at 5:53 PM

    Thats why Denard is being cautious.He has to prove to suitors he is healthy.I am sure he could play on and off and never get healthy.If he was under contract with the Nats for next year he would be playing already.

    • letswin3 - Aug 8, 2015 at 6:35 PM

      I’ve been wondering the same thing.

  3. natsfan1a - Aug 8, 2015 at 6:23 PM

    Bummer. I want the Span Man healthy.

    • natsfan1a - Aug 8, 2015 at 6:24 PM

      And on the field, natch.

  4. Drew - Aug 8, 2015 at 7:10 PM

    The Walk Year Curse continues.

    I’ve thought all along that Span is the likeliest of the four to re-sign, but a lingering back injury for a man in his 30s would give me pause about giving Denard three years.

    • Karl Kolchak - Aug 8, 2015 at 7:26 PM

      Span is likely going to have to sign for one year now–wherever that may be.

  5. manassasnatsfan - Aug 8, 2015 at 8:36 PM

    Span and RZim are the tickets to the playoffs. Without them chances become ledd

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