If you sit directly behind home plate during a Nationals game, you might notice something about the way Denard Span plays center field. Over the weekend, a scout pointed out that Span always lines up either a couple steps to the left or right of an imaginary straight line that bisects home plate, the pitcher’s mound and the center of the fence.

The scout said he always checks for that, as a clue for whether he plays a smart center field or not. Span never stands directly behind the pitcher in order to get an unobstructed view of the ball coming off the bat and get a better jump.

“I don’t ever overshade people,” Span said. “I think I’ve been blessed with some speed.” But depending on the batter or how the pitcher is throwing, Span will take a couple steps in either direction. Last year, Span ranked eighth in the majors among outfielder for recordings outs outside of his specified zone, per FanGraphs.com.

He’s fast, but he also gets good jumps, based partly on how he lines up. As a minor leaguer in the Twins’ system, coaches told him to not stand behind the pitcher, and it became natural for him. It is obviously a small thing, but it gives some insight into how Span approaches the details of his job.

“If you think about it,” he said, “that’s logic.”


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The Nationals have their third and final off day of the spring. Tomorrow, they will play the Marlins in Jupiter. A full lineup is expected to travel, and Chris Young will make his second start.