Wire Taps: Washington Nationals' New Leadoff Man Denard Span A Hit In Nationals Park + The Ballhawk, Cyborg And WereWerth

USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals held on for an 8-7 win over the Chicago White Sox last night. After the game, Nats' skipper Davey Johnson talked about Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth, Rafael Soriano and the new leadoff man, Denard Span, who is quickly endearing himself to fans in the nation's capital.

After going 2 for 3 with a double, a walk and two runs scored on Tuesday night, new Washington Nationals' center fielder and leadoff man, Denard Span, has an early-season .304/.484/.391 line with a silly OBP after six games and 31 plate appearances over which he's walked eight times, struck out once and hit two doubles. Not a bad start for the 29-year-old outfielder who was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in return for the Nationals' top pitching prospect, Alex Meyer, this past December. In Grapefruit League action, Span was 14 for 63 (.222/.347/.270), with three doubles, 12 walks and 11 Ks in 23 games. Defensively he covers a lot of ground in the outfield and as Davey Johnson explained last week, Span allows Bryce Harper in left and Jayson Werth in right to play closer to the lines in their respective corners.

"You guys were worried about him when he was hitting .180 in the Spring," Johnson told reporters after Tuesday's win, "But he was on base 35% of the time and when he was hitting .250 he was on almost .380. He works the pitcher good. He knows what he's doing up there." To put it in Nats' GM Mike Rizzo's scout speak, Span's a "true defensive ballhawk center field type of guy with great range," who, "Sabermetrically and with a scout's eye," is, "... a front line defensive center fielder," and at the plate is a, "high average guy, .350 OBP-type of guy," who, "... doesn't strike out," or is at least, "... one of the tougher guys in the league to strike out." And the former Twins' outfielder plays alongside a Run-Until-He's-Tagged, Tape-Measure-Testing, Laser-Throwing, Eyeblack-Oozing Baseball Cyborg and a WereWerth. Span's been as advertised so far this season, and he's even endearing himself to the citizenry in the nation's capital by tweeting about being stuck in traffic on the way to work:

One of us! One of us!! More about Span, the Nats' win over the White Sox and more in the links that follow and there are lots of them, starting, RIGHT NOW!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "On the season, [Denard] Span has seen 4.29 pitches per plate appearance. Behind him is Werth, who has seen 4.4 pitches per plate over his career..." - "Denard Span, Jayson Werth and the effect of seeing pitches" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "General manager Mike Rizzo went out and acquired [Denard] Span to give the Nats the prototypical leadoff hitter and center fielder he felt they were needing." - "Nationals Pastime: The many ways Denard Span can impact a game" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "The Nats won despite a shaky effort from left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez, who needed five innings to throw 99 pitches." - "Big bats show up for Nationals in slugfest win" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "'We've got a really balanced lineup. That's something that we have that most teams don't. It's tough on matchups. It's tough on pitchers, really,' [Jayson] Werth said. 'There's not really an easy spot in our lineup.'" - "LaRoche's 2 HRs help Nationals top White Sox 8-7" - Howard Fendrich, AP/WTOP.com

• "Interleague play may be exciting for the fans, but it causes some alterations and uneasiness for players, especially this early in the season." - "Interleague play might favor Nationals at home against White Sox" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Combining for three home runs between the sixth and eighth innings, [Jayson] Werth and [Adam] LaRoche answered questions about their personal offensive performances..." - "Werth, LaRoche power Nationals to victory" - Mark Zuckerman, CSN Washington

• "After starting the season 0-for-15, [Adam] LaRoche busted out in a big way tonight. He smacked two home runs..." - "Nationals Pastime: Drake LaRoche to his father: 'It's about time'" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Ensuring that the key architect behind their rise to prominence does not have an uncertain future, the Washington Nationals are in discussions with general manager Mike Rizzo for a contract extension." - "Mike Rizzo, Nationals in contract extension talks, owner says" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "When [Mike] Rizzo signed his current deal, he was signing his first contract as a general manager." - "Nationals plan to exercise Mike Rizzo’s option for 2014" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Jayson Werth reached and passed the 500-RBI mark on Tuesday, driving in three runs in the Nationals' 8-7 victory over the White Sox." - "Werth passes 500 RBIs for career" - Jeff Seidel, nationals.com: News

• "In his second at-bat tonight, Jayson Werth smoked a ball 400 feet to straightaway center. It died at the wall, and White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza brought it in for a loud out." - "Nationals Pastime: Werth keeps on crushing (Nationals eke out 8-7 win)" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Eventually, [Davey] Johnson said, he’ll start going with 'the hot hand,' which may not be an easy choice, either, if both stay hot." - "Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki catching onto dual role" - Mike Harris, Washington Times

• "[Adam] LaRoche, 33, thinks his back stiffness emerged from his left hip. He said he has long played with a sore hip..." - "Adam LaRoche returns to lineup, says back tightness is improved" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "This was a particularly strange outing by [Gio] Gonzalez. At times, he was un-hittable, leading to seven strikeouts." - "Instant analysis: Nats 8, White Sox 7" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Nationals manager Davey Johnson called the early Interleague games 'strange' but is glad to have the home-field advantage." - "Chicago White Sox at Washington Nationals - April 10, 2013" - Andrew Simon, MLB.com Preview

• "Shortstop Ian Desmond can see when Werth feels good at the dish. He saw this happening in Viera, Fla., last month during spring training." - "Werth's bat shining in balanced Nationals lineup" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "'Well, it wasn’t pretty,' said Nationals manager Davey Johnson as he sat down at his post-game press conference." - "Homer-happy Nationals top White Sox 8-7" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Gio Gonzalez needed 99 pitches to get through five innings of work, this after he threw 33 pitches in the opening frame." - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson discusses Nats' wild 8-7 win" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "The thing [Adam] Dunn always liked best about playing in Washington was the people, inside and outside of the franchise." - "Adam Dunn returns to Washington with the White Sox" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "At that point, the Nationals had to balance the offensive output against having a below average fielder, as Dunn committed 29 errors throughout his two years in Washington." - "Dunn back with fond memories" - Craig Heist, WTOP.com

• "[Jayson] Werth and [Adam] LaRoche hit two-run shots off Jake Peavy in the sixth, an inning after Desmond went deep." - "LaRoche’s 2 HRs Help Nationals Beat White Sox" - Dan Morrison, CBS DC

• "(Stephen Strasburg) coming in, drafting (Bryce Harper), the direction they were going. To me, it was easy for me to see they were going to go from a decent, competitive team to a really good one really quick." - "Adam Dunn returns to D.C." - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The 14 homers the Nationals have hit in the first seven games of the season help mask some troublesome signs early from the bullpen." - "Johnson confident in bullpen despite late runs by Reds, White Sox" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "About that balk: [Gio] Gonzalez let up the first run of the game by simply stepping off the mound with the wrong foot." - "Gio has long day in Nats' win" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "[Adam] LaRoche was nervous about his back because it was so tight in Cincinnati over the weekend. The slow start, well, that didn't seem to concern him as much either." - "Chicago White Sox at Washington Nationals - April 9, 2013" - Jeff Seidel, MLB.com WSH Recap

Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama):

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "[Adam] LaRoche added a solo homer in the eighth off Matt Thornton, Chicago's fifth pitcher. LaRoche had missed the previous two games with a back muscle problem." - "Adam LaRoche's 2 HRs help Nationals top White Sox" - AP/USA TODAY Sports

• "'Obviously the sixth inning got away from us,' said [Jake] Peavy, who allowed six earned runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. 'I was pouring sweat, losing a lot of fluid and was going through our hydrating stuff, about one an inning.'" - "Nationals hit four homers in win over Sox" - Dan Hayes, CSN Chicago

• "Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham immediately knew there was a problem with his left wrist after taking a swing against Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez..." - "Gordon Beckham of Chicago White Sox injures wrist against Washington Nationals" - Todd Karpovich, ESPN Chicago

• "CF Denard Span continues to impress manager Davey Johnson with his play in the outfield and his ability to get on base." - "Washington Nationals - PlayerWatch" - Reuters/chicagotribune.com

• "Adam LaRoche ended an 0-for-15 start to the season with homers in consecutive at-bats..." - "LaRoche's 2 HRs help Nationals top White Sox 8-7" - AP/The Argus-Press: Games

• "'I think everyone saw it coming,' [Adam] Dunn said about the Nationals' turnaround. 'You probably didn't see it coming as quickly as it did. But it was just definitely a matter of time.'" - "No DH in NL park, so Dunn out of White Sox lineup" Howard Fendrich, AP/San Antonio Express-News

• NATS MINORS:

• "Washington Nationals officials believe the city of Fredericksburg is within their protected area, and that any MLB-affiliated teams that aren’t part of the Nationals’ system would need their consent to operate in the city." - "Washington Nationals A team interested in Fredericksburg" - Bill Freehling, The Free Lance-Star

Class-A Hagerstown: "The Hagerstown Suns (3-3) took advantage of five errors committed by the Lakewood BlueClaws (1-5) on Tuesday night, en route to a 6-3 win at FirstEnergy Park." - "Suns take advantage of BlueClaws miscues in 6-3 win" - Eli Pearlstein, Hagerstown Suns News

Class-A Potomac: "The winning pitcher, Nationals starter, RHP Taylor Hill (1-0), was effective through 5.0 innings in which he allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts." - "Nationals Slug Their Way to a 12-4 Triumph Over Salem" - Potomac Nationals News

Double-A Harrisburg: "The first two men of the inning were retired, but Brian Goodwin got the rally started with a single. Sean Nicol singled before Anthony Rendon drove home Goodwin with a single of his own to make it 5-2." - "Senators Rally Late but Fall Short 9-7 to New Britain" - Marshall Kelner, Harrisburg Senators News

Triple-A Syracuse: "Syracuse (5-1) got its offense going in the second inning against Germano. With one out in the frame, first baseman Chris Marrero launched a solo home run high into the netting beyond the left-field wall." - "Chiefs rock Bisons in rain-shortened game" - Syracuse Chiefs News

Triple-A Syracuse: "After putting up eight runs in only 15 outs, the skies opened and cut short the Syracuse Chiefs’ 8-2 win over the Buffalo Bisons to just five full innings on Tuesday." - "Only the rain can rein in Chiefs offense" - Ben Meyers, The Auburn Citizen

• "Don't forget right-hander Lucas Giolito, the team's first-round Draft pick last year. One could imagine what he could bring to a rotation led by Stephen Strasburg." - "Washington Nationals update on Minor League system's top prospects" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "Wednesday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "[Bryce] Harper was honored this morning with a ceremonial resolution on Tuesday at City Hall in D.C." - "Bryce Harper, Davey Johnson honored by D.C. Council (Video)" - Sarah Kogod, Washington Post

• "Welcome back to Washington, Adam Dunn" - Nats Enquirer

• "The Washington Nationals survived yet another poor bullpen performance last night en route to their fifth victory of the season, a 8-7 win over the Chicago White Sox." - "Nats Hold On To Earn Fifth Victory Of The Season" - William Yoder, The Nats Blog

• "Last night [Adam] LaRoche hits two bombs crucial in winning a one-run game. His line goes up to .118 / .167 / .471." - "Adam LaRoche illustrates a point" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "Photos: White Sox v. Nats, April 9" - Cheryl Nichols, District Sports Page

• "It's about time" - Nats Enquirer

• "Since I wrote about the prospect of the Julia Louis-Dreyfus character running in the Nats presidents race, I suppose journalistic duty requires me to write about the result." - "Morning Pixels: VEEP in the presidents race" - Dan Steinberg, Washington Post

• "The 28 year-old [Ryan] Zimmerman will play in his 1,000th game for the Nats this Friday evening when the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals meet each other for the first time in the 2013 season." - "Ryan Zimmerman’s first 1,000 games" - Mark Hornbaker, D.C. Baseball History

• "Ladson’s Inbox 4/8/13" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "The Washington Nationals started their interleague rations with a win Tuesday night, outlasting the A.L. Central Chicago White Sox 8-7 before 24,412 at Nationals Park." - "Washington Nationals Game 7 Review: Nats survive homer-fest with 8-7 win over Sox" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "What Is A Balk?" - Matt's Bats

NL EAST UPDATES:

Marlins: "The official attendance, courtesy of the box score on MLB.com, was 34,439. That’s 3,000 or so shy of the 37,442 seating capacity." - "Marlins Park’s Second Opening Night Attendance Woes" - Wendy Thurm, FanGraphs Baseball

Mets: "One night after Matt Harvey mowed down the Phillies over seven innings, the Mets were run over by the combination of Cliff Lee and Dillon Gee Tuesday night." - "NY Mets’ Dillon Gee gives up three straight home runs to Phillies Ryan Howard, Michael Young, John Mayberry in loss" - Kristie Ackert, NY Daily News

Braves: "Once everything kind of clicks in the delivery, I don’t have to think about it. You just get comfortable and I was able to repeat my delivery later on." - Kris Medlen - "Braves quotes after Tuesday’s win at Miami" - David O'Brien, www.ajc.com

Phillies: "Roy Halladay has had an even more stellar career, by most measurements, than Lee's. Cole Hamels has a World Series MVP trophy and a ring, items Lee and Halladay would love to possess." - "Phillies' Cliff Lee takes simple approach to pitching" - Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Inquirer

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