- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 18, 2015

Nationals center fielder Denard Span will likely be reinstated from the 15-day disabled list Sunday and return to the starting lineup for Washington’s series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Span returned to Nationals Park on Saturday morning to go through a workout with team trainers. He ran sprints in the outfield and took swings in the batting cage, hitting balls either off a tee or flipped to him by a trainer. He said he emerged from those workouts without any issues.

Manager Matt Williams said the Nationals would see how Span felt Saturday evening and evaluate him further Sunday morning, but all signs point to an imminent return.

“I mean, physically like I said I’m fine,” Span said Saturday morning. “I played two [minor league] games in a row, a little fatigued, but the only way that’s gonna get better is by playing games and getting back there every day. Early in season, I think everybody’s got a little bit of fatigue. It takes time to get in the swing of the season. But I feel fine.”

Span, who is in the final year of his contract, had abdominal surgery March 9 after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia in December. He played one rehabilitation game at Double-A Harrisburg and two at Single-A Hagerstown last week, going 5-for-12 with a homer and a walk in the three games.

Span set out on his minor league rehabilitation assignment with a list of plays he wanted to make before feeling comfortable to return. He said he reached several of those benchmarks, including attempting a steal and breaking up a double play, and was pleased with how he felt.

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At the time of Span’s second surgery, he was expected to be out four to six weeks before resuming baseball activity. Monday will mark the six-week point.

“I’m very surprised. I just give glory to God,” Span said. “When I first got the news I was getting surgery, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to get back into a big league game until the middle of May, and might not be myself until June, July. I’m still a little ways away — well, I don’t want to say I’m a ways away — but I still have some room as far as getting back to the way I move. But physically, like I said, I feel fine. I’ve been running full speed, but I’m playing a little catch up with getting my legs up under me.”

Michael Taylor has played center field in Span’s absence and was leading all National League rookies in several offensive categories entering Saturday’s game, including hits (12) and extra-base hits (six). When Span returns, the Nationals could option him back to Triple-A Syracuse, where he could play every day and get limited at-bats, or keep him in the majors, allowing him to fill in for Span or Jayson Werth off the bench.

Williams said that decision has not yet been made.

“The question always becomes: What’s best for him? So we’ll evaluate that,” he said. “We’ll sit, we’ll discuss. Everybody certainly has an opinion on it, and we look at these things and look at what’s best for the player, first and foremost. What’s best for him for his development. What’s best for his future. So we’ll see.”

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