Even though it was only his first regular season game in a Nationals uniform, it feels like Denard Span has already been here a while. His friendly demeanor has blended in well in the clubhouse, and he has spent time getting accustomed to playing between Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth in the outfield.
Acquired in an offseason trade with Minnesota Twins, Span went 1 for 4 in his Nationals debut on Monday, a single in the eighth inning off left-handed reliever Mike Dunn, and tracked down several balls in center field. He enjoyed his first win, a 2-0 victory over the Miami Marlins, before a stadium regular season record crowd of 45,274.
“It was electric,” Span said. “I’ve played in a lot of big stadiums and crowds but today was extra loud.”
Span spent spring training growing accustomed to how Werth and Harper align themselves in the outfield, how much ground each can cover and what each of their voices sound like calling for balls. Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla., however, is not the same as Nationals Park, and part of Span’s new task is learning how to play in his new surroundings.
Span has shagged balls during batting practice the last few days and played in Friday’s exhibition game against the New York Yankees with a specific focus of learning the outfield walls. In the first inning, he tracked down a deep fly ball to center with ease.
“I’m going to learn as I go,” Span said. “I take my shagging pretty serious during batting practice … Especially because we play 81 games here, I definitely want to be comfortable in my home field.”
A NEW FEATURE MAKES ITS DEBUT
Each morning after games we’ll be selecting an at-bat of the game and showing you an interactive look at that at-bat. The interactive includes the speed and pitch type for each pitch in the at-bat, where it was located in the zone (and out of the zone) and a break down of the pitches thrown by the pitcher involved. The data for these at-bats comes courtesy Pitch Info, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and Sportvision. We’ll be using data like this all season so please let us know what you think in the comments.
FROM THE POST
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL