BOSTON — A little more than five weeks after undergoing abdominal surgery, Nationals center fielder Denard Span began a rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday.
Span started in center field and went 1-for-4 at the plate with a single. After the game, he told the Harrisburg Patriot-News that he planned to return to Washington. The center fielder could continue playing Wednesday at Single-A Potomac, which has a doubleheader before hitting the road Thursday.
Earlier Tuesday, Nationals manager Matt Williams said the Nationals sent Span to Harrisburg because of the bad weather brewing in Potomac. He said the plan was for Span to play seven innings Tuesday and then ramp up to nine, barring any setbacks.
Span set a new Nationals record with 184 hits in 2014. He had sports hernia surgery in December, then a second surgery to repair an abdominal muscle in March. He believes the two injuries were related.
Span began the season on the 15-day disabled list and was eligible to return Saturday. Left fielder Jayson Werth, who entered the year under similar circumstances, rejoined the Nationals on Monday after appearing in only three minor-league games. Whether Span’s rehabilitation stint is similarly brief will depend on how he feels, Williams said.
“They’ve both been given that opportunity to get their at-bats and get going,” he said. “If you miss spring training and don’t have any at-bats, it’s difficult. But we’ve been simulating them for them as much as we can. But it’s still not like going out there and playing.”
Span took swings in simulated games at Nationals Park last week before returning to the team’s complex in Viera, Florida. At the time of his second surgery, he was expected to be out four to six weeks before resuming baseball activities.
Now, five weeks later, Williams says the center fielder is nearing a return.
“For me, Denard’s healthy and ready to go,” Williams said. “We’re getting him in baseball shape and getting his timing down. So whatever that takes is what we’ll do. We can’t really say a timetable on it, because we just don’t know.”
McLouth resumes throwing program
Reserve outfielder Nate McLouth recently received a cortisone shot in his surgically-repaired right shoulder and has started throwing again, according to Williams.
McLouth had surgery to repair a torn labrum in August. He appeared in a handful of spring games as a designated hitter before suffering a setback, which prompted a second MRI. The exam did not reveal any additional structural damage, Williams said.
“No issues. Everything’s there. Everything’s repaired. Everything’s OK,” Williams said. “He just had a setback. When that happens you shut him down and make sure nothing’s going on. Luckily, nothing’s going on. Now he’s got the injection. He feels better.”