WASHINGTON -- Denard Span went through some early tough times during his first season with the Nationals before a hot second half showed the club what it expected to get when it acquired him from the Twins last November.
"I believe that wasn't everything I'm capable of doing," Span said on Monday while visiting students at the Nats' Youth Baseball Academy, along with pitcher Ross Detwiler. "That was just a taste of what I'm capable of doing."
Yet at times this offseason, there have been questions about whether Span will get the chance to give Washington that full year of production. The slick-fielding center fielder once again has been the subject of trade rumors, something he has found difficult to ignore.
"You try to tune it out, but with social media and all the other stuff, it's kind of hard to tune it out," Span said. "I definitely was surprised, I'll be honest with you, to hear my name, a little surprised and disappointed. I've been through it the last few years. … Whatever happens, whether I'm here in Washington or no matter where I'm at, I'm going to go out there and give it my all. Hopefully it's here, but if not, I've got to move on."
There are plenty of reasons why Washington would want to keep Span, who finished last season with a .279/.327/.380 line and is making a reasonable $6.5 million this year, with a 2015 team option of $9 million. Still, asked if he was confident about being the Nats' center fielder this coming season, Span wasn't about to make any assumptions.
"I can't say that. I won't say that until I'm headed down in my car to Spring Training," he said. "I've seen crazy things happen, with the Winter Meetings going on [in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., this week]."
If he is back, Span is confident he will be more comfortable in his second year in Washington. He called 2013 a "learning experience" after spending his entire professional career in the Twins organization, and he believes he put too much pressure on himself early in the season, while also adjusting to a new league.
"I feel healthy and just determined to continue to get better every year," Span said. "Hopefully we'll do something special this year."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @HitTheCutoff.