The Washington Times - June 17, 2013, 06:49PM

PHILADELPHIA — In six years in the major leagues, Denard Span cannot remember ever fouling a ball square off the top of his foot. He’d venture to say in 25 years of playing baseball at all, he’s never really done it flush on the top of it.

He has done it on his right foot three times now this season, the latest on Sunday in Cleveland keeping him out of the Nationals’ lineup on Monday against the Phillies.


Span hopes to return to the lineup on Tuesday, an assessment his manager agreed with, so long as he can keep the pain and swelling down and he’s able to make turns without crippling pain. Running straight ahead, he said, is a bit easier.

But perhaps more concerning for Span at this point is why he’s fouling so many balls off the top of his right foot. Admitting that his swing hasn’t been where he’d like it for the majority of his first season in D.C., Span thinks it’s at the root of his issue. Adding injury to insult, if you will.

“I know why,” Span said Monday. “My swing right now is not good. I’m getting around the ball. Right now my swing isn’t what it normally is, so I think I’m getting around the ball. That’s what I think it is. (Manager Davey Johnson) says it’s my timing. That it’s not my swing, it’s my timing. Either way it’s something to do with my swing.

“(But) I watch myself on video and when I see it, it makes sense for why I hit myself in the foot. My hands are getting away from me, I’m getting around everything.”

Span has hit .256 with a .312 on-base percentage and a .349 slugging percentage this season, his first since coming over in an offseason trade. Part of an overall under-performing offense, Span is among several players Johnson sees who is allowing the ball to travel too deep into the zone, and thus, fouling the balls off his foot.

“When your top hand is off and you let it get too deep, you’re able to hit your foot,” Johnson said. “The old rule of thumb: hit the ball in front of the plate. When you do that, you don’t hit your foot. I was just talking to him about that. He thought his mechanics were a little off. His mechanics aren’t off. His timing’s off. I told him, ‘You’ve got a good stroke and you need to work on your timing.’

“Pitchers try to mess up your timing and your job is not to mess it up. They’ve been winning the battles so far. We need to start winning that battle.”

Span took some soft-toss swings in the batting cage and had his foot wrapped tightly after receiving treatment on it for much of Monday afternoon. As long as he could run around on it on Tuesday, he expected to return. Then, perhaps, the process of getting a bit more comfortable will begin.

“I’m a grinder,” Span said. “I’ll find a way to get hits… (But) I haven’t felt to my capabilities, swinging-wise, all year. But I’m not going to use that as an excuse. Got to come every day with a mentality to work and try to get where you want to be and that’s basically it. 

“This game is a crazy game. Who knows why I don’t feel that great? I don’t want to get too much into my swing. This is my foot right now. We’ll leave it at that.”