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Span begins rehab assignment with Potomac

Aug 16, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

In the middle of a month filled with negative developments, something positive actually is happening for the Nationals on Sunday: Denard Span is beginning a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac.

The injured center fielder and leadoff man, on the disabled list since July 10 with lower back pain, is expected to be in the lineup Sunday night when Potomac hosts Wilmington at 6:05 p.m. at Pfitzner Stadium, his first step toward rejoining the big-league roster.

This significant development comes only a week after Span suffered a setback in his attempted recovery from the lingering injury, one that left the 31-year-old openly admitting he didn’t know if he’d be able to return this season. He was able to resume baseball activities quickly, though, and has spent the last week working out at Potomac while the big-league club has been struggling through a brutal West Coast trip that has left its season teetering on the brink.

If the Nationals can get Span back, they would boast a fully healthy lineup for the first time in 2015. And few members of that lineup have proven more important to the team’s fortunes than Span, who is hitting .304 with a .367 on-base percentage, .798 OPS and 11 steals in 11 attempts in 59 games played.

Span’s importance to the Nationals has been dramatic this season. They’re 11 games over .500 when he plays, but now are 11 games under .500 when he doesn’t play, leaving the club a disappointing 58-58 and 4 1/2 games back in the NL East entering Sunday’s series finale in San Francisco.

  1. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 16, 2015 at 3:05 PM

    Glory… Glory…. thank you as Nats fans NEEDED this type of news. Good Luck DSpan. Let you have no more setbacks and a successful stint at Potomac.

  2. Doc - Aug 16, 2015 at 3:07 PM

    It’s never to late—I guess.

  3. tcostant - Aug 16, 2015 at 3:14 PM

    In my best Star Wars voice. save us now Denard Span your our only hope!

  4. stoatva - Aug 16, 2015 at 3:53 PM

    Three cheers for D-Span.

    But by now we all have to recognize that the Denard who rejoins us isn’t likely to hit the ground running, any more than Zimmerman, Werth or Rendon.

    Three cheers nonetheless.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 17, 2015 at 9:34 AM

      Or less likely to hit the ground running: see, e.g., Ryan Zimmerman who actually has been excellent pretty much from the get-go on his return. Even his outs have been hard hit.

  5. JT - Aug 16, 2015 at 7:13 PM

    Patience, people. Once he comes back, we’ll catch fire and eclipse the Mets.

    • ArVAFan - Aug 16, 2015 at 8:14 PM

      From your mouth to the baseball gods’ ears!

    • simalex - Aug 16, 2015 at 9:31 PM

      amazing how much difference span has made to this team, but i really wonder if the return span itself would be enough. i just don’t see any life at all in this team and that more than any other thing is so infuriating.

  6. manassasnatsfan - Aug 16, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    Was at the game 2 infield grounders 0 for 2.

    Reed Johnson played left he went 1 for 3

    • therealjohnc - Aug 17, 2015 at 9:36 AM

      We should know by now that results on minor league rehab mean nothing. Remember Jayson Werth was crushing the ball while on rehab assignment, and has struggled. Zimmerman was something like 1 for 16 on his rehab assignment and has been hitting the ball wicked hard since he was activated.

      Health is the key; what the actual line score is means nothing.

  7. NatsLady - Aug 16, 2015 at 11:15 PM

    I feel like the team is poised for a turnaround. It may not happen in Colorado because that is not exactly a pitcher’s paradise. But it could spark the hitters, especially Rendon. Patience paid off for Desi it will pay off for Rendon.

    This was not a winnable game. But the other three in SF were, and that’s frustrating. Thank goodness for the Pirates. Now, let’s take 2/3 from the Rox. Let’s have the O’s take 2/3 from the Mets. Come home 3.5 back. It could be A LOT worse.

    • natsguy - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:05 AM

      Losing 12-6 was a winnable game??

    • natsguy - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:07 AM

      I agree with you about Rendon. The biggest problem they have had this year is the loss of the Span/Rendon combo. They were the engines of victory all last year.

    • Section 222 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:29 AM

      The Nats have a history of playing well, and hitting well, in Colorado. But they are in such a funk right now, I think it’s highly unlikely they’ll do better than winning 2 of 3. Heck, I’d settle for one win. That would at least be a step in the right direction.

      Thank goodness for the Pirates. Can you imagine if we were 7.5 games back already. Ugh.

  8. unterp - Aug 17, 2015 at 6:58 AM

    it’s too late…

    • davebinmd - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:08 PM

      So you’re saying no team has ever come back from 4.5 games back with a month and a half left in the season?? Some team does that nearly every season, and often from farther back with a lot less time left.

      The Mets top 3 starting pitchers (Harvey, DeGrom, and Snydergaard) are all on innings-limits this season and are on-pace to reach them. If they shut them all down where does that leave them?

  9. JamesFan - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    Of all the injuries this year, the loss of Span has been the most significant If he is OK physically, this is the one guy I want them to extend. Taylor is not ready.

  10. rlndtln - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:48 PM

    If Span and Johnson come back before sept.1 who goes down?Has to include 1 pitcher and 1 regular guy.

  11. rlndtln - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:50 PM

    I would guess Roark and MAT as TYMO might be out of options and MAT would be back in a few days.

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