Denard Span arrived at Kauffman Stadium on Friday afternoon to take part in early batting practice and see if he was indeed ready to return to the lineup four days after getting hit in the back of the helmet with a pitch.
Span didn’t do any hitting in early BP, but he ran around on the field and stood in for some bullpen sessions. Everything went well enough that he’s back manning center field and hitting leadoff for the first time since Monday in Chicago.
“I don’t feel dizzy or anything like that,” Span said.”I feel good and ready to go.”
Span stood in on two bullpen sessions — one by Francisco Liriano and another by Nick Blackburn — so he got to see both left-handed and right-handed pitching. The real test, he said, was seeing Liriano throw since it was left-hander Randy Williams who hit him with the 91 mph fastball.
“It was good just to see the ball coming out of his hand and at game speed,” Span said. “So tonight if a lefty does come in later in the game, I’ll be ready hopefully.”
After getting hit by the pitch, Span missed the final two contests in Chicago and then got another day of rest during the Twins’ off day on Thursday. Span said he never would have wanted to get that much time off if he hadn’t gotten hit by the pitch, but the three-day break has provided some benefits.
“I definitely feel a bit more fresh,” Span said. “Even in the cage, my hands felt a little quicker than they usually do at this time of the year.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has said that the biggest challenge for a hitter is getting back in the batter’s box for the first time after he’s been hit in the head. Since this was the first time it’s ever happened to Span, he doesn’t know exactly how he’ll react.
His hope is just that he can focus like it’s any normal at-bat.
“I’ve been praying that everything goes fine and any fears I have, once I get back in the box, won’t be going through my head,” Span said.