"I don't think it's going to be an issue for him," first-year manager Matt Williams told reporters when asked about the banged up right knee which led to Washington Nationals' center fielder Denard Span leaving Tuesday night's game against the New York Mets after a tumbling, two-out, warning track catch which ended the top of the third inning.
Span chased down a fly to left-center off Mets' outfielder Matt den Dekker's bat, and after a controlled sprint, caught up to it and dove forward, making the catch, but hitting the track knee first before rolling over into the outfield wall.
Oh, @thisisdspan. You NEVER disappoint in CF. #GoldGlove http://t.co/Dp8DCiCTHU http://t.co/QmJwQRaYkS— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 24, 2014
"It's pretty scraped up," Williams said of Span's right knee. "I mean it's a great catch. He had to go all out for it and body control at that point is probably not the most important thing for him, just getting the ball in his glove. And he banged it a little bit, came down hard on it, scraped it up, but he's fine."
"Looking at the replay it looked like it was more the impact when I fell on to it," Span told reporters. "It seemed like a lot of my weight fell onto my knee. The scrape is fine. The scrape doesn't bother me. When I first got up I felt fine, but then when I took about three or four steps trying to jog in that's when my knee felt a little funny."
Williams hit for Span with 23-year-old outfielder Michael Taylor, who took over in center as well and ended up driving in the first of four runs the Nationals scored in their 4-2 win.
"[Span] was due to hit second in the [third] inning," Williams explained. "It was sore coming off the field, that's why it took him so long to get off. So we just didn't want to take any chances. Getting him in here and get some ice on it and get him cleaned up."
"It's alright," Span said. "A little sore. Banged it pretty hard when I came down. Also scraped it pretty good too, but just a little sore, but I iced it a couple times and I feel like I've got all my strength in it, so we'll just see how it feels tomorrow."
The 30-year-old center field and leadoff man did, however, admit that he didn't think he would be in the lineup when the Nats and Mets play the second game of their three-game set.
"I don't think I'm going to be in there," he said. "Skip already told me, most likely not, not worth taking any chances. Come tomorrow and hopefully it feels better. Get some more treatment on it."
As for the chance he took going all out to make the grab? At this time of year? With important games coming up in a little over a week? Of course he did.
"Everybody is playing hard," WIlliams said, "and he's not going to shy away just because it's this time of year. I wasn't concerned with him hitting the wall. The way he went down was concerning. But they're going to play and you can't play any differently. You have to go get it and you have to dive and you have to go in and break up two, and all of those things, like the way we've been playing all year. We can't change now. But, you know, yeah, when he starts limping, of course, there's some tense moments in the dugout for sure."
• We talked about Span's play and the Nationals' win over the Mets on the latest edition of Nats Nightly after last night's game: