Nationals' CF Denard Span Starting To Become Span Nats Were Looking For...

Steve Mitchell

Not even Denard Span is sure what's gone wrong against left-handed pitchers this season, but the Washington Nationals' outfielder, GM Mike Rizzo and Nats' skipper Davey Johnson are all happy with what they've seen from the center fielder recently.

[ed. note - "Every Friday morning throughout this season, hopefully, if they'll continue to have me, I'll be writing a post over at MASNSports.com's Nationals Buzz, "... as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest," writers to their site. All opinions expressed are my own... A sample follows... You can read the entire post HERE or through the link included below."]:

"We think we've got guys in the system that fill this role," Rizzo explained, "But they're years away. They're in the pipeline..." - Mike Rizzo on Denard Span deal this winter

The defense has been there all along in his first season in center field with the Nats. At the plate, however, Denard Span's issues with lefties (.194/.255/.239) this season were an unexpected development. A career .287/.357/.373 hitter against left-handed pitchers, Span actually hit better versus lefties than right-handers in 2012 (.301/.374/.365 vs left-handers to .275/.328/.408 vs right-handers) but he has underperformed even his worst season against left-handers at the major league level in 2011, when Span, struggling with concussion issues, had a .240/.337/.320 line vs southpaws. Against right-handers, the Nationals' leadoff man has a .307/.355/.428 line so far in 2013 that's actually a slight improvement over his .285/.350/.393 career line versus right-handers across the board.

Span struggled versus left-handers to the point that manager Davey Johnson started talking platoon around the All-Star break. Span couldn't explain his issues with left-handers, saying earlier this week that, as the numbers above show, it hasn't been an issue in previous seasons. "I hit lefties. I always have," Span said. "You check my stats. I normally don't say that, but I've hit them my whole career in the big leagues." Span said he knew he was brought to the Nationals to be an everyday player, not part of a platoon, and his improvement at the plate in the last month-plus has quieted some of the talk of sitting him against lefties.

The Nats outfielder's current 17-game hit streak has impressed both his manager and GM. Over the course of the streak, which started with a 3-for-8 night in the Nationals' 8-7, 15-inning win over the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 17, Span has a .406/.453/.551 line in 77 plate appearances, with three doubles, two triples and a home run over that stretch...

• Read the entire post over at MASNSports.com's Nationals Buzz...

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