Denard Span returns from concussion


(AP Photo/The Herald-Mail, Joe Crocetta)

Nationals center fielder Denard Span came off the seven-day disabled list after clearing tests and successful rehab following a concussion he suffered last weekend. “He feels good this morning, so we’ve got him in the lineup,” Manager Matt Williams said. The Nationals optioned outfielder Steven Souza Jr. back to Class AAA Syracuse to make roster space.

Span was smiling and in a good mood Saturday morning in the Nationals’ clubhouse. Thursday night, after playing five innings at Class A Hagerstown, he said he felt like he had not even suffered a concussion.

Span has a difficult history with head injuries. He suffered a concussion in 2011 in a collision at home plate. He missed 59 games on the disabled list. He returned only to miss another 34 games, still feeling symptoms. Span said his recovery from this concussion, which he sustained after running into Dan Uggla, has been totally different.

“Any time you’ve got history and you get hit in the head, it’s a concern,” Williams said. “Hopefully, he just doesn’t get hit in the head. He’s passed all the tests. He’s done the rehab. He’s cleared to go. You just don’t want anybody to hit their head.”

With Span’s return, Nate McLouth will revert to his fourth outfielder role. Given a brief opportunity as an everyday player, McLouth scuffled. This season, he is 2 for 26 with a double. His at-bats have been decent – he has four walks and just five strikeouts, and he has seen 4.13 pitches per plate appearance. But he has little to show for it.

“I’ve seen him barrel the baseball, but there’s been a lot of flyballs, which is uncommon for him,” Williams said. “It’s not very characteristic of him. There’s three or four balls in Miami that he hit well to left-center field. It’s a big park of course. He’s just working on having his trajectory come down a little bit.”

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.

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Adam Kilgore · April 19, 2014