Denard Span: ‘I view myself as a leadoff hitter’

(Via MASNSports.com)

Denard Span has talked with reporters in recent days about the way his batting approach can be improved by hitting seventh. That’s led to passages like this, from a recent Nats Journal item before Sunday’s game.

In his seven games as the No. 7 hitter, Span is averaging 3.15 pitches per plate appearance. In that small sample size, he is hitting .308 with a .308 on-base percentage.

When he was hitting leadoff, Span was more deliberate. His season-long struggles with his swing and timing led to the worst season of his career so far. He is batting .258 with a .313 on-base percentage. In 89 games hitting leadoff, Span averaged 3.83 pitches per plate appearance.

So he likes it, right? Well. Maybe. Sort of. For a little while.

“Hitting seventh as opposed to hitting first, I don’t have to worry about going up there trying to see pitches,” he told MASN’s Julie Alexandria before Tuesday’s loss in Detroit. (Watch it here.) “That’s the luxury. You know, I don’t like hitting seventh, but the luxury of hitting seventh is I get the chance to see six hitters before me have at-bats. So by the time I get up there, I’ve seen for the most part what the pitcher has and what he’s trying to do, so when I get up there, I’m ready to hit.”

Alexandria then pursued the “don’t like hitting seventh” part, asking Span why he doesn’t like it, and whether he could see himself settling into that slot.

“Well, I view myself as a leadoff hitter,” Span said. “That’s something I’ve done for 11 years now. You know, I’m 29; I’ve been doing it since day one I got drafted. And I think I fit the role to still be a leadoff hitter. But right now, with me hitting seventh, I’ve gotten some confidence going and we’ve been winning games. So right now, at the time, I’m fine with it. But in the future, going forward, I don’t believe that I’m a 7-hole hitter.”

Well. That’s a debate for another day, perhaps. Also, Span is batting leadoff on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Alexandria also asked what Span has taken from his talks with new hitting coach Rick Schu.

“He likes to use the word fluiditity,” Span said with a smile. “I don’t know if you’ve talked to him yet. It’s a made-up word. I’m still trying to figure out how to spell it, but just getting more fluid and getting more rhythm in my swing. I think for most of the year I was too tight, too stiff, too choppy with my rhythm and my swing. It gives me the ability to be on time more and put me in a better position as the ball is coming.”

If the team starts winning, someone will make Fluiditity Now t-shirts. If not…well, frankly, someone will still probably make Fluiditity Now t-shirts.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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