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Span ready to connect with D.C.

Jan 27, 2013, 5:21 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Sports Images

For Denard Span, getting traded to the Washington Nationals was quite the coincidence, perhaps an act of fate. He was returning to the city he was born in, but a town he had spent little time in since. He needed to get in touch with his roots and learn about his birthplace.

Luckily for Span, his new employer was a professional baseball team and could provide him the grandest of tours. Span saw a Wizards game, took a White House tour, saw Union Station and Georgetown, and even ate at Ben’s Chili Bowl. He feels like he has a pretty good feel for the city and, after NatsFest on Saturday, his new fans as well.

“I’m in the nation’s capital man, that’s awesome,” he said. “I never thought I would be coming back here to play after being born here.”

“It seems like the fans are already greeting me with love even though they haven’t seen me play yet, definitely getting me excited to go down there to Spring Training.”

Span is still getting used to being on a new team after being in the Minnesota Twins’ organization since being drafted in 2002. He met many of his teammates for the first time on Saturday after talking to a few only by text message.

“It’s just a new start for me and I’m excited for it. It’s been a whirlwind this offseason for me with getting traded but honestly I’m ready for this new chapter in my life.”

Despite switching teams, Span will be able to keep his number ‘2’ that he wore with the Twins. Outfielder Roger Bernadina was already planning to change his jersey to ‘33’ so Span didn’t have to do any convincing. Sometimes players have to sweeten the pot with gifts or a Rolex watch for instance.
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  1. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    I just want to point out that since Denard Span got here, the Wizards have gotten decent, if not good, the NHL strike has been settled, and the football team made the playoffs, even if they did get bounced in one. Just sayin. Don't use it all up at once, man.

  2. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    correction: the NHL *lockout*

  3. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    “I told myself if I ever got a chance to help people it would be single mothers so I will have to find an organization here in Washington and do whatever I can to help them out,” he said.Mr. Span, if you're reading this–you might look into N Street Village. Just a suggestion.

  4. Kevin Rusch - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    The guy sounds OK so far. Let's get him on-base and see how much fun this gets.

  5. ehay2k - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    "It only works, if the number is TWO."Click (or was it Clack?)

  6. sjm308 - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Just a really good first look at this young man.I wonder if he will move here full time like Werth did? Thanks again Mark.I realize Peric has him on the bench by April but my hopes are he solidifies our lineup even more.From the end of the last post, I am going to disagree with NatsJack about JZ. I think if it goes to arbitration (and I hope it does not), he will win. I just saw a blurb about a very average pitcher signing a two year 10 million dollar deal whose numbers do not come close to what Jordan did last year. I think the arbitrator looks at similar numbers to make the decision and while Jordan did get a nice raise last year he definitely pitched well enough to get that 5+ million he is seeking.Steady – hopefully we will share a beer this yearunkyd – long explanation of Justin's at the end of the last postGo Nats!! World Series or Bust!!

  7. cass - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    “I’ve heard, what’s the term they give it, ‘Chocolate City?’ I looked at the roster and I was like, ‘man, I’m the only African-American on the team,’ I guess it’s up to me to bring a little chocolate to the team and to the city.”—Someone should really introduce Denard Span to the shortstop on his new team.

  8. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    Cass……you've got to be kidding, right.

  9. sjm308 - Jan 27, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    Did we sign a new shortstop??

  10. cass - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Why would I be kidding? Because Ian Desmond has light skin? I mean, obviously Derek Jeter is of mixed heritage, but he's always considered himself to be African-American, as have hias teammates. I mean, I could link to past Jackie Robinson Day articles or articles about his Roberto Clemente award nomination, but I really wouldn't think that'd be necessary. This just seemed like a really strange quote given Desmond's presence on the team.

  11. Gonat - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    Span doesn't have Rolex money? I guess its good he doesn't feel like he does as he probably won't go bankrupt.

  12. sjm308 - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Cass – good call on your end. As you mentioned, Jeter has always considered himself African-American and this really is not a huge deal but I just didn't associate Desmond the same way. Now that you mention it, and I think about it, it does make sense. Obviously, Span did not consider it either. Again, no big deal although I think the outreach to communities in big cities is a huge part of MLB pr and I hope we see more diversity in the game. Another reason this blog continues to impress.

  13. sjm308 - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Not that Wikipedia is the end all and be all of facts. Desmond is listed under African American baseball players.

  14. Doc - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    No Rolex money? Wad are they payin' him–$10 bucks an hour??With due respect, Den, Desi is the Mayor of Chocolate City. Check the roster one more time.

  15. natsfan1a - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Also from the end of the last post, for sofa: I left you a note about a potential addition to the Viera schedule page.On a fest note, following are some random musings regarding the Q&A sessions that I attended. They were View from the Dugout (moderator: Bob Carpenter; attendees: Corey Brown, Danny Espinosa, Will Rhymes, and Drew Storen) and Anything But Baseball (moderator: FP Santangelo; attendees: Christian Garcia, Bryce Harper, Tyler Moore, and Jayson Werth).Will Rhymes (aka Batman) is a funny guy. He’s a William & Mary alum and lives in the Del Ray neighborhood. He ingratiated himself with fans by saying that he's a big Caps fan and also noted that his fave player to watch in any sport is RG III. When Bob asked him to talk about what fans might expect from him in this spring, Will stated that they could look for him to have a mediocre ST (big laugh there).It was revealed that the team has a takeoff song they sing on airplane flights – Elton John's Tiny Dancer (Wait, what?) The tradition was said to have been instituted by pitchers, because they have more eclectic tastes in music per Storen.The panel chose Moore as the most eligible bachelor when asked which of the remaining single guys qualified. They cited his blue eyes, southern accent, and charm. (Bob said something like, this panel is venturing into places we never expected.) They also opined that the best wedding was that of Morse. None had gone to all of the weddings (and Werth stated that he wouldn't go to a pitcher's wedding, anyway :-)).This is the session where Bob had the line about Taft being the only conservative pol who had a good year. The line was met with both jeers and applause, as well as bipartisan (imo) laughter. This is also the session where we Druu'd and gave a standing O when Drew walked into the room.In the Anything But Baseball session, fans could ask questions about anything but, well, you know, baseball. I learned that Jayson Werth is a funny guy. Some of the best (imo) player answers follow. Harper, when asked what he was going to do for Halloween next year: "Hopefully, have a big parade in DC." (Me likey.) Harper was also asked by a kid whether he cut his own hair (FP: "And with the lights off?"). Harper, “No. That kid really doesn’t like me.” [joking] Werth, when asked his fave baseball movie: "The Natural." When asked why: "Because it's awesome." Garcia, when asked what he'd be if he weren't a ballplayer: a surgeon, so that he could help people – awww (others had said "farmer" or "soldier," so Werth kind of rolled his eyes and said "Pitchers"). Werth, when asked which "first pitch" thrower had caused him to be star-struck: "Nobody." Then he allowed as how the Navy Seals were impressive, and Bob noted how the team works with wounded warriors.Werth got a standing O upon entering the room (after FP alluded to the "best at-bat of the year"). FP then opined, "What a difference a year makes." (Heh, yeah. Well, I never booed him back in the day, so I'm cool.) Moore blushed and acted embarrassed when told about the most eligible bachelor decision. (awww)More generally, I attended talk sessions only, and never had to stand in line for very long or to stand during a session. Didn't have to wait very long for food either. There was a long line to get in when I arrived (about 12:20), but I got to the ticket-taker within about five minutes. I was nice and toasty warm the whole time, even while waiting in line, unlike during previous fests at the park or on winter caravans. Faithfully submitted.

  16. Scooter - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    sjm, my understanding is that arbitration salaries are intentionally lower than their free-agent counterparts. Which might throw off the comparison to your Cubs pitcher.

  17. UnkyD - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    sjm308 said…NatsJack – I am going to disagree with you on this one. I just saw some very very ave. pitcher for the Cubs sign a two year 10 million dollar deal. If they look at numbers of other pitchers to decide the arbitration I think you can easily make the case that JZ is "worth" the higher number. I do realize he got a nice raise last year but that should not matter in looking at what he did this past year. Unlike some on here, I am pretty sure you and I will not get into a hissy fit over this.———— I could be wrong, but I don't think "market value" has any effect on arb value?———And, I knew that about Justin's…. Just suffering from synaptic caffeine deficiency?

  18. Scooter - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    Anecdote time: the first time I saw a picture of Ian Desmond, I was all, "Oh, so THAT'S why everyone keeps comparing him to Jeter!" (It used to be, sports guys — presumably unconsciously — would never compare players across racial lines. I think that tendency has lessened in recent years, Gott sei dank.) Because seriously, this kid's game is nothing like Derek Jeter's.Whatever basket he chooses to put himself in is totally up to him.

  19. Positively Half St. - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    That's brilliant, Sec 3. I wish I had thought of that.

  20. tayo - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    As an african who loves baseball, I also am interested in seeing more african americans involved in it. I have also been confused about what Desmond race is. It's clear he is not caucasian. I actually questioned if he had some hispanic heritage.

  21. peric - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. peric - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    By Span's definition (given Roger Bernadina) Obama might not qualify as an African-American either? Since he's 1/2 Kansas red state and 1/2 Kenyan. ~laughing~I think the Span got himself into a bit of trouble on twitter with the local tweeps as it is … hmmmm Nyjer Morgan redux? Maybe its time we stop with the whole "chocolate city" deal. The riots were forty plus years ago and they are finally refurbishing Anacostia thanks to the Nats and the new baseball stadium … Can't we just be a rainbow of immigrants that arrived here at various times by various (and sometimes criminal/crimes against humanity) means?

  23. peric - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Its not like Australia wasn't originally a penal colony.

  24. natsfan1a - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    fwiw, Nats Fest addendum: I also attended the Nats Jeopardy session. We'd all thought that questions would be posed to the fans. Instead, FP hosted and questions were answered by Detwiler (haha, spell-check made that "Twiddler"), Storen, and Werth. They used those little old-fashioned hotel desk bells that you tap on top and it dings. (Oh, I guess that's why they're called "bellhops." But I digress.) Contestants were allowed to use their smart phones to search for answers, but they weren't allowed to ask the audience for help. However, some players did receive assists from players (cough, Clippard) who were standing just offstage. FP "tossed" one of the "backstage helpers" with the time-honored ump gesture. Det won but Werth stated that it was under protest (as he traced a letter "P" in the air). Trying to recall the categories, hmmm…Nats Park, Nats stats, DC monuments, US Presidents. If I left one out, maybe someone else can recall it. That is all.

  25. peric - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    Moore blushed and acted embarrassed when told about the most eligible bachelor decision. (awww)He is also IMHO the most likely to have a break out year offensively. And Davey knows it. And having Span, Werth, Suzuki and Lombo in the lineup all would constitute a definite power drain from last year. Run production could significantly go way down. Davey doesn't operate that way. So, we'll see who ends up as the odd man out so that Moore can be in the lineup more often. Right now between LaRoche, Werth, and Span I'm picking Span.

  26. Tony - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    Yeah, someone tell these guys they need to close up shop. Not.

  27. Tony - Jan 27, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    As for Desmond, I don't recall him ever self-identifying with any race or combination thereof. Why should he have to?

  28. baseballswami - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    Lots of mixed heritage players in MLB. They are Nats. That's all the ID I need.

  29. natsfan1a - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    Agreed.baseballswami said… Lots of mixed heritage players in MLB. They are Nats. That's all the ID I need. January 27, 2013 3:03 PM

  30. sjm308 - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    Tony: perfect link and you beat me to it. DC is doing some excellent beers lately

  31. Rabbit34 - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Who gives a crap if no starter is black! Or red! Or white, as in basketball! As long as the best are out there. In our case, we even won the pennant!

  32. JamesFan - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Denard, if you've discovered this site, welcome to DC. You bring a lot of talent this team needs to bring a champion to this selp-possessed city. One bit of advice: Pay no attention to the bloggers, and do read any of these sites from Feb 1 on.

  33. peric - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    One bit of advice: Pay no attention to the bloggers, and do read any of these sites from Feb 1 on.Too late he's met worse than here. He's already been thoroughly excoriated by none other than Chris Needham the guy who ran former Nats blog Capitol Punishment. You can't do any worse than that. He did seem more than a bit miffed afterward.

  34. djinFl. - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    There is a book coming out in April by DC resident Tom Dunkel, titled Color Blind. It is about the 1935 Bismark, ND semipro team that Satchel Paige pitched on. The early reviews are superb, so here is a link. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Color-Blind-The-Forgotten-Team-that-Broke-Baseballs-Color-Line/120886678084098?notif_t=page_new_likes

  35. MicheleS - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    I am thrilled that Denard wants to get involved here in the community. He was really nice and engaging with the fans yesterday. Has to be hard coming to a place he hasn't even played for and intereact with people who have only seen you in highlight clips.

  36. MicheleS - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    1A.. thanks for the update. Next year, I am going kidless (or should I say bored teenagerless)

  37. MicheleS - Jan 27, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    Oh one last thing,I heard that they are sending out New Red Carpet Rewards cards for the electronic ticketing in March.

  38. sjm308 - Jan 27, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    1A – my thanks as well for the anecdotes. Almost as good as being there.

  39. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Thanks as well, and I believe I moved your ST links over to the new tab. CMIIW.

  40. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    So Chocolate City will be the Official Beer of the Center for the Study of Keiunta Denard Span.

  41. Section 3, my sofa - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:04 PM

    That, or Miller High Life. Depends on his tastes, I guess.

  42. Section 109 DC - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    I agree, many thanks to 1A. I may have missed what others may have said about the first two Q&A sessions, but here's what I either remember or have notes of. "Life on the Road" had Ryan Mattheus, Ryan Perry, Chad Tracy, and Steve Lombardozzi. Carp did a very good job as MC and at the outset got everyone talking about life on the road in the minor leagues. It wasn't pretty (poor stadiums, sometimes sparse crowds, sometimes hotels with cockroaches), but to a man they said it was all worth it and that it made them appreciate life in the majors all the more. What major league city do they dislike the most? Three out of four said Philadelphia because of the antagonism of the fans (my wording). Lombardozzi said he'd come up with a different answer–NYC, I think because he doesn't like big crowds (in the city in general). When the audience got to ask questions, someone inquired as to the guys' favorite players. Some of course found that a little hard to answer, but when they got talking, there were a couple of poignant remarks–Mattheus said that Brad Lidge had helped him out a great deal, and everyone was sad to have seen DeRosa leave. I got a good impression of everyone on the panel, and thought that Tracy seemed to be a real mensch. "Preparing for Games" had FP as MC, and he seemed more relaxed than on the air and just a tad sarcastic. Clipp, Suzuki, Detwiler, and one of the strength and conditioning coaches formed the panel. (Everyone referred to him as "Coach," and I can't find a name on the Nats' Web site that seems right. He was very likeable.) Well, the most startling thing was that, on game days, Clipp takes alternating soaks up to his neck in 32 degree and 110 degree tubs to "get the blood flowing." Maybe I got that 32 degrees wrong, because that would be a block of ice. Maybe it has salt in it or something. Kurt is a man of routine who shows up to be stretched at 6:20 on the dot. Clipp starts stretching around the seventh inning so as to be ready when the phone rings; the bullpen has exercise bands and such for stretching. FP expressed great admiration for Kurt and said that he (Kurt)has always played with his hair on fire. Kurt said he tries not to visit the pitcher much during games and does so generally to help the pitcher settle down. And he says what you'd expect a catcher to say–if you don't want to get "trucked" (actually I think that was FP's term), you shouldn't be a catcher. (That is a part of the game that I don't like.) I thought NatsFest was terrific–very well planned and very successful. Just great to hear from the players themselves. It sure made me even more excited than I was. FP pointed to last year's heartbreaker for the 49ers (his favored team)and their presence this year in the Superbowl, and said he was hoping the same turn of events this year for the Nats. Amen to that!

  43. baseballswami - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    Couldn't go, but you know the Nats have become a big deal in this area when 106.7 TheFan( formerly known as the NFLStation) does four straight hours of NatsFest. They had player interviews every 15 minutes and most of them were actually good. The hosts actually seemed excited. The not- red–white-and-blue team was not mentioned even once that I heard. I have to admit I couldn't turn it off and it made me feel part of it. I even sat in a parking lot to finish an interview. Times have changed.

  44. Scooter - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    What excellent reports. Thanks, y'all! Sounds like it was a lot more fun than I would have guessed.

  45. peric - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    I'm not sure I am really happy with it … I mean it seems great for kids and ownership should finally consider one task almost complete in that they have finally built a nice fan base.But, I'm not sure I enjoyed finding out that key parts of the starting lineup are the "walking wounded". Werth isn't as critical but Zim, Desmond and Epy surely are … Be nice to get both Rizzo's and Davey's take on these issues.

  46. baseballswami - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    I was very surprised that Danny came right out with the shoulder news. Makes me wonder who knew before that. He always seemed kind of quiet, but that kind of news and the anti- Santa beard were both quite attention – getting. Odd.

  47. 5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  48. natsfan1a - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    As opposed to posting same. (Oh, no, I didn't.)

  49. Scooter - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    No, you did, and I love you for that.

  50. natsfan1a - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    You're welcome on my fest report, and my thanks to sec 109 for sharing anecdotes as well. Wish I could have made it to those talks, but I didn't allow sufficient time for Metro, which had a track issue crop up on my line. (Interestingly, every time I sent my husband a derogatory-to-Metro text on the ride home, it wouldn't go through. The more mundane temporal updates went through fine. hmmm… :-)) The post here is the next best thing to being there.I am reminded that in one session I attended, the fans asked the fave ballpark question. Rhymes stated that he hadn't played in many NL parks (mostly AL for him), but that he'd take any of them, because that meant he'd be playing in the bigs. (Dude's good.) Also, a fan asked about which team could be the most challenging in the NL East. The consensus was the Braves. Espi also mentioned the Phillies (to resounding boos). He recovered by saying that he liked to beat them most of all. (Well played, sir.)sofa, I had to look up CMIIW, but you're not. :-)Section 3, my sofa said… Thanks as well, and I believe I moved your ST links over to the new tab. CMIIW. January 27, 2013 6:01 PM

  51. MicheleS - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    Here is a kid's view of NatsFest. growing the fan base….Matt's Bats

  52. baseballswami - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    Michele – I owe you a drink because I was just going to post that link. Seriously folks, this will make you smile.

  53. MicheleS - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:24 AM

    Swami, Espi's new nickname.. The LORAX! OMG.. Matt is just adorable

  54. baseballswami - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    Matt seems awesome. His enthusiasm is contagious. Did you meet him? Love the Lorax nickname!

  55. MicheleS - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    No, i didn't get to meet matt, but i saw him running around with his family, kid looked totally psyched to be there. And that was the best thing about NatsFest, seeing all the kids faces light up.

  56. Piero - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    Matt is doing a good job of replacing you-know-who and the African Queen. :)

  57. Tcostant - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:59 AM

    I'm only looking for solid players who husle, regardless of race.

  58. Gonat - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:03 AM

    Tcostant said… I'm only looking for solid players who husle, regardless of race. _________________________________I agree with you. So long as there's no discrimination, I don't care. Best 25 go North.

  59. baseballswami - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    And fans who are as hard core as all of us, right????

  60. SonnyG10 - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:52 AM

    Right!

  61. peric - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:00 AM

    And when you're a Nat you're as happy as can be because you are a member of the Lorax family!

  62. baseballswami - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:49 AM

    Ooh. I can feel some Dr. Seuss rhyming about to break out from fans A, B and C. Oh the places they will go!!!

  63. SonnyG10 - Jan 28, 2013 at 4:34 AM

    Goodnight, peeps.

  64. SonnyG10 - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Good Morning peeps.

  65. natsfan1a - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    lol, Sonny. Good morning to you as well. :-)

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