MIAMI — The Washington Nationals didn’t have all that much to smile about late Sunday afternoon as they packed up and prepared for a week on the road in Miami and New York.
But Denard Span couldn’t help but laugh at himself. An American League player until this season, Span was utterly confused when manager Davey Johnson pulled him after he made the final out in the fifth inning.
Span was simply double switched out, allowing Johnson to bring in left-hander Zach Duke for multiple innings in the team’s 9-0 loss to the Braves without worrying about pinch-hitting for him.
But Span didn’t immediately understand that.
“I didn’t know what the heck was going on,” Span said. “My first time being double-switched in the National League. I thought maybe I got benched. I was like ‘What did I do?’ They had to break it down to me, let me know what was going on.
“Even though I still don’t fully understand, I just shook my head and took a seat.”
After Span lined to right field to end the fifth, bench coach Randy Knorr signaled to him with his hand. Span’s mind raced. “I’m like ‘Did I not hustle? What did I do?’”
The concept of the double switch was explained to Span in the dugout, but the Nationals’ center fielder, one of four starters who finished the game in the dugout, was still chuckling after the game.
“If I ever become a manager, it’s going to be in the American League,” he said.
Told by a reporter that his only real infraction was making the final out of the inning with a long reliever preparing to enter the game, Span smiled.
“If I’d have known that, I would’ve gotten a hit, or I would’ve walked,” he joked.