The Washington Times - September 18, 2013, 10:20AM

Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 28 games Tuesday night, slapping a single to left field in the fifth inning. There was nothing dramatic or flashy about it. It was just another day at the office for the Washington Nationals’ center fielder, who is now in sole possession of the longest hitting streak in the major leagues this season.

If he can keep it rolling for two more games, Span will tie Ryan Zimmerman for the longest streak in Nationals history at 30 games.


“Oh man, I hope he doesn’t,” Zimmerman joked Tuesday night, letting out a wide smile.

“No,” Zimmerman continued, more seriously. “Span is one those guys who struggled at the beginning of the year and kept working his butt off. To be where he’s at now, this is the kind of guy we knew he could be. I hope he breaks the big record. Nobody will root for him more than the guys in here. Anything over 20 games is impressive, and the way he’s done it, he’s been a really, really good player for the last month, month-and-a-half.”

Span said the best part about the streak, aside from the fact that it has revitalized his season at the plate, is that it’s coinciding with the Nationals’ best stretch of play all season. It’s not only been gratifying, but the winning, and subsequent playoff push, has helped Span keep his mind off the personal goals. 

“I’ve tried not to really think about it, to be honest,” Span said. “We’ve been playing good baseball and that’s been more important to me than the hitting streak. I’m just happy that I’ve been able to contribute to us winning some games.”

Span’s streak, which bested the 27-game mark set by former Twins teammate Michael Cuddyer earlier this season, has been remarkable. Since it began, Span has raised his batting average from .258 to .283. 

And yet, to think about it in the context of history, he is only half-way to the remarkable 56-game mark set by Joe DiMaggio.

“Unbelievable,” Span said. “Twenty-eight days getting a hit feels like an eternity, but to do it pretty much for two months straight is unbelievable. That just shows why he is one of the greatest players ever to play this game.”

Span’s teammates are proud of how he’s worked this season, despite struggling through much of the first few months with his new team. They’re enjoying being along for the ride now as his streak continues to surge.

“It’s hard to get hits in the big leagues, let alone one every single day for 20-something days,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a cool thing to be a part of. He should be proud of it and it’s something not a whole lot of people do.”

“It’s great,” said first baseman Adam LaRoche. “He’s one who went through some struggles early. Ended up moving in the lineup once or twice and finally got comfortable. I think he trusts his swing, he trusts his approach and he’s not going back and forth now with different approaches different swings. I just see a consistent guy who’s got a ton of confidence right now. Yeah, 28 games is unbelievable.”

So will he take aim at Zimmerman’s Nationals record of 30 games?

“I try not to think about that either,” Span said with a smile. “Just one day at a time. I’m at 28, let’s just see what happens tomorrow.”