DENARD KEIUNTA DENARD SPAN
Image of
Nickname:   N/A Position:   OF
Home: Tampa, FL Team:   GIANTS
Height: 6' 0" Bats:   L
Weight: 210 Throws:   L
DOB: 2/27/1984 Agent: Joe Urbon
Uniform #: 2  
Birth City: Washington, DC
Draft: Twins #1 - 2002 - Out of high school (FL)
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO OBP SLG AVG
2003 APP ELIZABETHTON   50 207 34 56 5 1 1 18 14   23 34     .271
2004 MWL QUAD CITIES   64 240 29 64 4 3 0 14 15   34 49     .267
2005 FSL FT. MYERS   50 186 38 63 3 3 1 19 13   22 25     .339
2005 EL NEW BRITAIN   68 267 47 76 6 5 0 26 10   22 41     .285
2006 EL NEW BRITAIN   134 536 80 153 16 6 2 45 24 11 40 78   .349 .285
2007 IL ROCHESTER   139 487 59 130 20 7 3 55 25 14 40 90   .355 .267
2008 IL ROCHESTER   40 156 32 53 11 1 3 14 15 8 26 36   .481 .340
2008 AL TWINS   93 347 70 102 16 7 6 47 18 7 50 60 .387 .432 .294
2009 AL TWINS $435.00 145 578 97 180 16 10 8 68 23 10 70 89 .392 .415 .311
2009 IL ROCHESTER   2 6 1 2 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 .500 .500 .333
2010 AL TWINS $750.00 153 629 85 166 24 10 3 58 26 4 60 74 .331 .348 .264
2011 IL ROCHESTER   10 39 4 8 1 0 0 2 3 0 0 5 .205 .231 .205
2011 AL TWINS $1,000.00 70 284 37 75 11 5 2 16 6 1 27 36 .328 .359 .264
2012 AL TWINS $3,000.00 128 516 71 146 38 4 4 41 17 6 47 62 .342 .395 .283
2013 NL NATIONALS $4,750.00 153 610 75 170 28 11 4 47 20 6 42 77 .327 .380 .279
2014 NL NATIONALS $6,500.00 147 610 94 184 39 8 5 37 31 7 50 65 .355 .416 .302
2014 SAL HAGERSTOWN   2 4 3 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 3 0 .714 .500 .500
2015 NL NATIONALS $9,000.00 61 246 38 74 17 0 5 22 11 0 25 26 .365 .431 .301
2015 CAR POTOMAC   1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
2015 SAL HAGERSTOWN   4 13 2 8 0 0 1 2 1 0 2 0 .667 .846 .615
2015 EL HARRISBURG   4 14 5 4 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 .375 .500 .286
2016 NL GIANTS $5,000.00 143 572 70 152 23 5 11 53 12 7 53 79 .331 .381 .266
Personal
  • Span was an all-state wide receiver while at Tampa Catholic High School in Florida. Denard had transferred from Hillsborough High (the alma mater of Carl Everett, Dwight Gooden, and Gary Sheffield) to help Tampa Catholic win a Florida 3-A state title as a junior. As a senior, he hit .456 and led the county in receiving yards for the football team.
  • Span was a key member of the U.S. junior team that finished second in a Pan American tournament in Cuba in 2001.
  • Span is a hard worker. And he enjoys playing baseball.

    He is soft-spoken, friendly, and a religious man. His contagious laugh is heard frequently in the clubhouse.

  • During the offseason before 2004 spring training, Baseball America rated Denard as the #7 prospect in the Twins organization. The magazine had him as 14th-best in the spring of 2005. And, during the off-season before 2006 spring camp, Baseball America ranked Span as 6th-best prospect in the Minnesota farm system.

    But they dropped Span to #13 during the winter before 2007 spring training. And he was at #20 in the spring of 2008.

  • Span started the 2005 season at high Class A Fort Myers, where he led the Florida State League in batting (.339) and on-base percentage (.410) when he was promoted to Double-A New Britain.

  • After the 2005 season, Denard hit .294 in the Arizona Fall League.

  • Span was chosen to play in the 2008 Beijing Olympics but because he had been promoted to the majors, he was forced to skip the Olympics.
  • In 2008, Denard had LASIK surgury to improve how he was seeing the ball during his at bats.
  • Denard on his long road to the Majors: "At the time when I was struggling at Rochester, I didn't realize how those struggles would cost me," he said. "That the organization and people in baseball would think that I wasn't ready for the big leagues. At that time, I truly felt I had shown enough that I could at least play in the big leagues. I think once I started hearing people say, 'He can't play in the big leagues, he's another fourth outfielder or a pinch-runner-type guy,' which definitely caused me to dig deep. Whenever I'm feeling down or tired now, I just think about those times ... feeling hurtful and torn."
  • When the Twins sent Span to the minors at the end of 2008 spring training, despite having a very good camp, he was choked up when he talked to the media. And he vowed to force the Twins to call him up soon.

    "It was one of those defining moments in my life,'' he said. "More than my career. I would say my life. I feel like that's where I grew up to becoming a man and take a little more responsibility.

    "Kind of drove me to want to be a better individual, better player, better teammate.''

    Twins manager Ron Gardenhire remembers how Span responded.

    "That's when he became an angry young man and said, 'I'll show you,'" Gardenhire said. "He's been proving that he should have been there from the beginning, which is sometimes a good thing."

    CLOSE TO MOM

    Span leans on his Mom, Wanda, for advice on about anything when times get rough.

    "We're always praying together, especially last year," said Span, whose mother is also a pastor. "I spent a lot of hours on the phone with her trying to get through last year and trying to stay positive."

    Span grew up in a single-parent home in Tampa, Fla., and excelled at baseball growing up before becoming a standout at Tampa Catholic High School.

    "She took me to and from all my practices growing up. She was always at all my games unless it was something to do with work or church. She always supported me. She taught me a lot of values, such as hard work, that I still carry to this day."

    Span's mother still follows his career closely from Tampa, as she watches almost every game on television and tries to see him play in person at least once a month.

  • Denard's mother, Wanda Wilson, raised two boys, Denard and Ray, by herself in the Tampa area. She made sure her two boys put their priorities in the order: Believe in God, work hard, and don't cut corners.

    Wilson, 60, was an example of a person who followed those rules. While raising two boys, she worked hard and now owns a child care center in Tampa.

    "She said if you put forth the work, I would be able to accomplish and receive anything I wanted," Span remembered.

    Talk to Wilson and you will not hear her complain about being a single parent.

    "You take life as it is. It is what it is," Wilson said. "I choose not to complain, but I get up and do what I have to do. These children are looking up to you who are their source. I can sum it up by saying, I take parenting very seriously.

    "It was not a hard task [raising two boys]. I instilled certain values in them. By the time they became teenagers and middle school, it really wasn't hard. I took a lot of time with them. I kept them involved in a lot of activities—sport activities, church activities, community activities. They were never ever bored."

    Wilson is pleased that her son is playing for the Nationals. Because she went to school in Washington, D.C. and she gave birth to Denard there, too, before moving her family to Tampa.

    She is not surprised to see her son in the Major Leagues. 

    "I saw him working hard when a lot of other children that age didn't want to put the time into it. They didn't want to invest the time into it," Wilson said. "Denard would be over there, throwing the ball, trying to get with somebody older to show him what to do and how to do it."

    Span is happy that is mother is able to see him play professional baseball.

    "It's always nice to have her there," Span said "Still, to this day, I hear her voice. It could be 20,000, 30,000 people in the stands, but I hear her scream while I'm hitting. It's a dream come true to make her proud."

  • March 31, 2010: Denard, who is from Tampa, purchased tickets for his family to sit next to the Twins' dugout at Steinbrenner Field for an exhibition game vs. the Yankees. In the first inning, Span swung late on a 3-2 fastball from Phil Hughes and lined a foul ball to the third-base side that struck his mother, Wanda Wilson, in the upper chest.

    Span jumped into the stands to check on his mother, wearing her blue #2 Span Twins jersey. Wilson was escorted away by paramedics.

    Span took a called third strike after resuming his at-bat and left the game in the third inning.

    After being examined, Mom returned to watch from a seat in the shade.

  • In August 2013, Denard's mother sent him a text message telling him he needed to swing at the first pitch more often. The next day he hit a home run on the first pitch.

  • When Span was injured in August 2012, he was unwilling to get an MRI because of claustrophobia.

  • Early in 2013 spring training at the Nationals camp in Viera, Florida, a dead fish fell from the sky as Denard was working out in the outfield. Span wasn't so much as frightened of the falling fish, as he was when the Osprey who had dropped his lunch circled back, and back, and back again for its meal. Eventually, Span threw the catch over the fence.  "I was just screaming," Span said. "I'm not an outdoorsman. I didn't want him to attack me."  

  • Denard is engaged to Shadonna Copeland, who is from the Tampa, FL area. The couple plans to get married sometime in December, 2015. Span and Copeland have been together 10 years.  Span popped the question on February 13, 2015. Their friends and families were in attendance at a restaurant in Tampa. Copeland had no idea what was going on. She thought it was pre-Valentine's Day dinner. At first, she thought it was a surprise party because the family screamed, "Surprise." Copeland began to cry, her hands on her face. A few moments later, Span came in the room, went on one knee and proposed to her. She obviously said, "Yes."  Obviously, Copeland means the world to Span, who will enter his third season with the Nationals. "She has been there with me through thick and thin. She has put up with my foolishness for a long time," Span said. "I'm just excited about us starting our lives together. I'm just happy and elated about it."  (Ladson - mlb.com - 2/13/15)  

  • At the start of 2015 Spring Training, manager Matt Williams said that Span is valuable in every aspect of the game. Williams went so far as to call Span a leader with a strong work ethic.  

    "He is the one that makes our team go. He is a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder, who throws well, who understands how to run the bases," Williams said. "He makes it comfortable for our pitching staff to go ahead and challenge a guy and know it will be caught when it's hit out there."  (Ladson - mlb.com - 2/22/15)  

  • It was no ordinary afternoon for Denard. He spent it wearing a Major League uniform, which was enough to make the afternoon special.  Span is part of that seemingly disappearing breed of ballplayers that was thoroughly steeped in the Minor Leagues before advancing to the Majors. He played six seasons in the Twins' farm system, repeating Double-A and Triple-A, before making his Major League debut in 2008.  Those 572 games that Span played in the Minors help him appreciate the Majors all the more.  

    "I never take anything for granted," said Span.  Span made another pointed remark about his extended stay in the Minors. "It made me hungry as well," he said.

    That attitude partly fueled the Giants' motivation to remove him from the free-agent market by signing him to a three-year, $31 million deal during the 2015 offseason. Fewer players nowadays receive as much big league preparation time as Span did. Consider three other Giants: first baseman Brandon Belt, third baseman Matt Duffy and shortstop Brandon Crawford played 196, 248, and 305 games in the Minors, respectively. This doesn't necessarily mean that they're significantly better ballplayers than Span. Factors such as need at a particular position or whether a club is struggling or succeeding can influence the timing of a promotion.  

    Giants general manager Bobby Evans said that "there's no surefire way" to follow a set formula for a callup, though he added, "You'd like to get as many games, at-bats, innings and success as you can."  Span admitted that he needed extra time to develop in the Minors, since the Twins drafted him out of high school (Catholic High in Tampa, Fla.).

    "It probably took me at least three years before I got in a solid routine," he said.  Span had the good fortune of coming under the influence of the Twins, who under general manager Terry Ryan and former farm director Jim Rantz established a reputation for their superior player-development acumen. Span admitted that he felt impatient when a player, inside or outside Minnesota's organization whom he considered not as skilled as he was, received a Major League look before he did. Denard, a three-sport star in high school, never committed himself to baseball full-time until he turned pro. He came to realize that he needed time to refine his ability.

    "In hindsight, looking back at it now, once I got to the big leagues, I stayed there," Span said. "I feel like I got all my seasoning, all of my mistakes, per se, out of the way in the Minor Leagues. I wouldn't say I saw everything in the Minor Leagues, but I saw a lot."

    Span saw and learned enough to know how to deal with a slump. He gained enough wisdom to realize that swinging at sliders veering outside the strike zone would shorten his career. Players who are rushed to the Majors often lack these attributes.  

    Span, who has accumulated close to eight years of big league service time, appears destined to become at least a 10-year veteran. Those days in the Minors haven't shortened his years in the Majors. Former Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia, who logged 468 games in the Minors and spent all or part of 15 years in the Majors, identified with Span.

     "That path worked for me," said Aurilia, who's in camp as a special instructor. "It obviously worked for him. And I hope it pays dividends for this team."  (Haft - MLB.com - 3/3/16)  

    TRANSACTIONS

  • August 2002: Denard signed with the Twins for a bonus of $1.7 million after being drafted in the first round, out of Tampa Catholic High School in Tampa, Florida. Brad Weitzel was the scout who signed him.

  • March 13, 2010: The Twins and Span agreed to a five-year, $16.5 million contract extension. The pact includes a $9 million team option for 2015.

  • November 29, 2012: The Nationals sent RHP Alex Meyer to the Twins, acquiring Denard.

  • October 30, 2014: The Nationals picked up Span's $9 million option for 2015.

  • January 4, 2016: Span signed a three-year contract with the Giants worth $31 million guaranteed. It includes a $4 million buyout in an optional fourth year.
Batting
  • Span has lots of tools. And he has become totally committed to getting the most out of those tools.

  • He has a good on-base-percentage.

  • Denard may not be very big, but he has the kind of baseball body that will develop more strength—a quick-twitch athlete. He already has lefthanded power to the gap, but not for home runs. And his profile and mindset are to be a classic leadoff man like Kenny Lofton.

    He has improved his discipline at the plate. Span has a good knowledge of the strike zone. He works counts, taking pitches until he gets one he can drive. He has home run power when he turns on the ball, but for the most part he's geared for doubles and triples in the gaps.

    "A leadoff hitter gets paid to score runs," Span said during 2008 spring training. "So to me, getting on base and on-base percentage means more than your average. Well, not quite, but it's just as good in a leadoff hitter. And I'll take 0-for-1 every day if it means I get walks and still score runs for the team."

  • He is a fine lefthanded hitter because of his superb hand-eye coordination. And his ability to beat out an infield hit or lay down a very good bunt adds points to his batting average. He has become a very good bunter.
  • Denard was so overmatched in his first years as a pro that opposing pitchers nearly knocked the bat out of his hands. His solution: He went to a split-grip, swinging the bat with his hands spread apart a few inches.

    That approach got him to Class AA New Britain where, after batting .285 the second half of 2005, he was told to put his hands together and swing like everyone else.

    Span balked. He didn't want to change what worked. He was confused. He called Torii Hunter for advice.

    "It was hard to add up," Span said. "It didn't make sense. My average went from .295 to .255 in like a month."

    But he eventually adjusted and began to drive the ball into the gaps more often, and realized that was more enjoyable than slapping the ball around.

  • Denard has very good bat speed because of fast hands. He gets the bat through the hitting zone very quickly. His power numbers will improve just about every year. But power is not his game. Making solid contact and driving the ball to gaps is where he is. He stays within his swing.
  • The Twins altered Span's spread-out stance at the plate, shortened his stroke and cut down on some of the natural uppercut in his swing. That enabled Denard to hit the ball on the ground to the left side more often, so he can beat out an infield single.

    He usually slaps the ball to the opposite field to give him a chance to run. he is content to use a quick, short swing, making contact.

  • Denard tends to be a bit of a streaky hitter, not driving the ball consistently. He can be overpowered by hard heat when he is in the "down" mode, while not much of anything can get him out when he is "on."
  • In 2007, Span worked on keeping his hands closer together at the plate as a means of adding more power to his stroke.

    "I feel like I have a lot more whip with my hands together," he said. "And now I'm able to drive the ball more than before." (John Millea-Minneapolis Star Tribune-4/23/07)

  • Denard considers any long at-bat a victory, especially when he's leading off a game. When Span is leading off he has a stringent plan. He almost certainly will not swing at the first pitch. He almost certainly will not swing in hitter's counts such as 2 and 0 or 3 and 1. He almost certainly will do everything he can to foul the ball off if it looks like the pitcher has dazzling stuff.

    "When I lead off a game, that at-bat doesn't belong to me," he says. "That at bat is for my teammates. I'm trying to get on base for them any way I can. And I'm trying to make the pitcher show his slider or his changeup before he really wants to."  (Joe Posnanski-Sports Illustrated-4/05/10)

  • After Denard Span's 29-game hit streak came to an end on September 18, 2013, he returned to the clubhouse, where the entire team was waiting for him. The Nationals gave Span high-fives, hugs, and a round of applause after he ended the longest hit streak in the Major Leagues that season. Span was one hit shy of the Nationals' record held by Ryan Zimmerman, who hit in 30 straight games in 2009.

    "I'll be honest, I was definitely upset," Span said. "I haven't not gotten a hit in 29 days, so that felt weird, walking back to the dugout without getting a hit. I felt sad, like I let myself down, let the fans down, they've been rooting for me.

    "I've gotten a lot of scrutiny this year, with how I started," Span said. "And for me to do what I've done, and give the fans an opportunity to see what I bring to the table, it's just been good for them to see that I am a good player, and [general manager] Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals brought me here for a reason. It's just an unbelievable feeling, I'll be honest."

    Span batted .388 with five doubles, two triples, two homers and nine RBIs during the streak. Over that time, the Nationals went 21-8.

    Span's streak was the longest of his career, and more than halfway to Joe DiMaggio's Major League record 56-game hit streak.

    "Yeah, I was halfway," Span said, jokingly. "I got to 28, and I thought I was doing something." (9/18/13)

  • Denard does a lot of visualization—watching successful at-bats over and over again.

    Span isn’t one to talk much about his swing mechanics, but early in 2014 spring training, he noted he is crouched slightly lower than in 2013. And before he swings, his hands aren’t static but rocking. Span’s swings are more fluid and less jerky than before.

    He tries not to overthink what he is doing with his swing, but he focuses on feel.

  • September 5, 2014: Span made a bit of history with his 1,000 career hit.

  • Denard Span's double in the final game of 2014 marked his 184th hit of the year, setting a single-season record for the Nationals.

    September 28, 2014: By collecting two hits, he broke Cristian Guzman's record for the most multi-hit games (58) in a season. Span also broke his record for the most hits in a season (183).

  • As of the start of the 2017 season, Span's career Major League stats were: .284 batting average, 48 home runs with 389 RBI's in 4,392 at-bats.
Fielding
  • Span is a fine center fielder—smooth and polished. Because he is so fast, his range is excellent. He has a fairly good arm, just enough to play in right field, but profiles best in center field.
  • Denard has good instincts for tracking the ball off the bat. He plays a very shallow centerfield. His speed enables him to make up for most of the mistakes he might make in the outfield. He outruns the ball.

    In 2005 and 2006, scouts noticed that Span was the best defensive outfielder in the strong Twins' farm system.

  • Speed? "Fast doesn't even describe it," Twins Latin American coordinator Jose Marzan told the Fort Myers News-Press. "I played with Deion Sanders in college. He's that fast. That's who he reminds me of. His feet don't hit the ground. Well, maybe they do a little bit. It's just beautiful to see a guy run that fast."
  • You don't find very many guys that play as shallow a centerfield as Denard. He challenges hitters to try to get a ball by him. He is aggressive out there, and makes some very special plays. He can outrun his mistakes.
  • Span has a below average arm, but it is playable in center field.
  • In 2013, Span did not win the Gold Glove. But he was named Wilson's Defensive Player of the Year Award for the Washington Nationals.

    Denard did not make an error in 384 total chances in 2013.

  • Span enters the 2015 season having posted a 10.8 WAR since 2012.
Running
  • Denard is blazing speedy, running the 60 in 6.45 seconds. And he gets to first base from home plate in 3.9 seconds easily. He is the fastest player in the Twins' organization (2005 and 2006). He has excellent first-step quickness.
  • His speed is rated at 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
  • Span is rather raw on the bases. But it is as if his feet barely touch terra firma when he is on the run on the 'paths or in center field.

    Denard is still learning technique on the bases. He is not real aggressive and does not get a great jump. He needs to get the most out of this—it is his best tool.

  • He beats out a lot of groundballs in the infield for hits.

  • September 12, 2014: Span reached a personal milestone in the ninth inning the4-3 loss to the Mets, stealing his 30th base of the season. It's a particularly meaningful accomplishment for Span, who never stole more than 26 bases in a season, and that occurred in 2010, when he was with the Twins.

    "It means a lot to me. You set out a goal to do something. I'm still pumped about it, to be honest with you," Span said after the game. "I worked very hard to get 30. To other big-time basestealers, it might not mean a lot, but I've come a long way in my base-stealing. It's a good feeling. I want to continue to get better."

    Span credits his success to first-base coach Tony Tarasco, who taught him how to prepare both mentally and physically.

    "He worked with me during Spring Training," Span said. "I'm getting my technique down. He kept me confident out there. He never let me get down on myself, even when I get thrown out or make a mistake on the bases. He is always there in my ear. He tells me to keep going, and I owe him a lot." (Bill Ladson - MLB.com  9/13/2014)

Career Injury Report
  • July 2003: Span missed a couple of weeks with a badly sprained ankle. Span rolled over on his ankle attempting a slide into first base and spent three days on crutches. "Tough lesson to learn about sliding," Twins minor league director Jim Rantz said.
  • August 2003: Span missed three games after he was hit in the head by a pitch.
  • May 2004: Denard was on the D.L. with a broken hamate bone, a left wrist injury which occurred while he was swinging a bat. He missed over two months
  • April 30, 2005: Span suffered a sore left hamstring and went on the D.L. for just a few days.
  • February 22, 2006: Denard showed up at spring training with a tender shoulder.
  • May 20–June 12, 2008: Span suffered a broken finger on his left hand when he was hit by a pitch while squaring to bunt.
  • June 10-25, 2009: Denard flew home to Minneapolis to consult with doctors. He had been experiencing dizziness, a condition that bothered him late in May, and compelled him to seek the help of a specialist who first diagnosed the trouble as a possible thyroid problem. Then, they said it was an inner ear disorder called vestibular neuritis in his right ear. A common symptom of the ailment is vertigo. Span went on the D.L.
  • June 8-August 2, 2011: Span was on the D.L. after suffering a concussion in a home-plate collision with Royals catcher Brayan Pena.

    August 14, 2011: Denard missed some more games with more symptoms from his June 3 concussion and then went on the D.L. with migraines that don't cause headaches, but vertigo and dizziness.

    "I get foggy and dizzy at times, and feel fatigued," Span said. "It's not easy for me to get going, even when I wake up in the morning. It's just a combination of things. I don't feel as bad as I did a few months ago, so I don't think it's all from the concussion, because it's migraines that have lingered."

  • August 28-September 12, 2012: Span was on the D.L. with a right sternoclaviscular joint strain. The sternoclavicular joint connects the clavicle to the sternum. He originally incurred the injury while trying to make a sliding catch on Aug. 12 against Tampa Bay.
  • April 12-19, 2014: The Nationals placed Span on the 7-day disabled list with a concussion.
  • December 3, 2014: Span underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia. He was expected to be ready for Spring Training, and Span said he plans to be 100 percent in six weeks.
  • March 9-April 19, 2015:  Denard had surgery to repair a right core muscle, and the Nationals were without him at the start of the regular season.

    Span said he started feeling pain in the ab muscle six or seven weeks after having hernia surgery in early December. He was hoping the pain would go away by the time he arrived in Spring Training, but it grew worse after he played against the Mets at Space Coast Stadium. He underwent surgery in Philadelphia.

    "This is probably the last year this ballclub has a chance to be together. We have a chance to do something special. That hurts more than the fact that I'm going to be a free agent," Span said. "You throw in the fact that I'm going to be a free agent. I truly believe God is trying to show me something. I'm going to take what I can go through, learn from it and it's going to be that much more sweeter when I'm back playing."

  • July 7, 2015: Span was on the D.L. with lingering back spasms. He had an MRI and began seeing a specialist.

    August 8-25, 2015: Denard experienced a setback in his rehab from the back injury.

  • August 27, 2015: Span had to go back on the 15-day DL. with left hip inflammation—not a back-related injury, but possibly season-ending. It was determined that Span would have hip surgery, knocking him out for the rest of the season.
    September 26, 2015: Span went on the 60-day D.L. with left hip inflammation.