In a recent sit-down with MLB.com, Mariners outfielder Denard Span answered questions on a wide range of topics, from his new digs in Seattle to the disappearance of his gray beard.MLB.com: What was your reaction after you were traded from the Rays to the Mariners?Denard Span: I was definitely surprised.
In a recent sit-down with MLB.com, Mariners outfielder Denard Span answered questions on a wide range of topics, from his new digs in Seattle to the disappearance of his gray beard.
MLB.com: What was your reaction after you were traded from the Rays to the Mariners?
Denard Span: I was definitely surprised. I didn't think I would be traded by the end of May. I knew I would get traded at some point, but I thought it would be around the Trade Deadline. … I understood the situation. I knew my time in Tampa wasn't going to be for an extended stay.
MLB.com: I saw an Instagram post of you as a little kid in a Seattle Mariners uniform. How ironic is it that you are now a member of the Mariners?
Span: That was my Little League team growing up. A couple of weeks before the trade, my mom sent me that photo. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I ended up getting traded over there. That was very ironic.
MLB.com: How much did you like playing with Tampa Bay?
Span: I actually enjoyed it. It was a good time. Myself, Carlos Gomez, Sergio Romo and Wilson Ramos -- we were like the veterans there. Everybody else was young, wide-eyed. It almost made me feel like we were the big brothers. They looked up to us. It was a lot of fun. Being in that atmosphere, it was a breath of fresh air. But as far as being home in Tampa, that trumped everything. I was able to spend time with my wife, my mother, son and with other family members. I was also able to participate in family gatherings. It was something I had missed for 16 years.
MLB.com: It seems like Seattle agrees with you. The batting average is up.
Span: We talked during the offseason, and I told you I was working my butt off. My body felt good, and I was confident that I was going to be able to come out this season and remind myself what I can do.
MLB.com: The Mariners are winning. If the season ended today, the team would make the postseason. Why is your team winning?
Span: We have a talented group of guys. We have a group that meshes together. Everybody is having a good time. There isn't one man above the team. It's an awesome atmosphere, awesome clubhouse. That's the DNA, so far.
MLB.com: I know the Mariners are in the American League Wild Card race, but I'm sure you want to win the division. How tough is that division, considering you have the Astros in there?
Span: It's going to be very difficult to win the division. It's a great division with the reigning champions. Houston is playing unbelievable baseball. They are an unbelievable team. Anaheim is not far away from us. It's going to be a tough challenge down the stretch in order for us to win the division. But we'll see what happens.
MLB.com: You are a free agent after this season. What are your plans? How much do you have in the tank?
Span: My plans are to see how the season finishes up. First things first. We'll see how the season goes and evaluate how I feel physically. Whatever opportunities come my way, I'll just wait them out, consider them with my young family and I just go from there. If I feel as good as I feel right now, I want to play as long as I can or play a few more years, whatever the case may be.
MLB.com: You are now a family man. You have a young son named D.J. Is it better than what you expected?
Span: Yes, it is, man. It has been such a joy. It really put things in perspective. No matter how good my day is, I come home, see his face, I forget about everything.
MLB.com: When I first met you, you talked about how your mother raised you and your brother by herself. Considering you didn't have a father growing up, were you scared at any point before D.J. came along?
Span: At times, I think about it. When I look at him, all I can do is just pray that I can be the best father that I possibly can be. I didn't have much [in terms of interactions or teachings from my father]. It's like a trial and error. Nobody is perfect. I think as long as I'm a constant in D.J.'s life, I'll be ahead of the game.
MLB.com: Based on your Instagram, it seems you have moved your family to Seattle.
Span: Yes, they are in Seattle with me now. They are enjoying the West Coast.
MLB.com: I think that shows how much of a husband and father you are.
Span: Yes, I hope so. I wish they could get on the plane and travel with me. It's a little difficult. We are all one. We can't go too long without seeing each other.
MLB.com: Tell me the advice your mother gave you to help you raise your family and become a good father.
Span: She told me to honor my wife, honor my duties as a husband. My mom is very religious, and so am I. Everything that she has tried to teach me is always pointed toward the Bible. That's my guideline.
MLB.com: I can imagine her reaction when D.J. came along.
Span: Yeah, man. My mom is probably just as excited as I am. She is like a kid in a candy store when she is around him.
MLB.com: I have to ask you about your beard. You took pride in the fact that it was gray. All of a sudden, I look and you colored the beard. What happened?
Span: I feel you. I said, "Let me try this out." I did it maybe a month ago. You know what? We'll see how long I will ride this out. Don't be surprised if you see you see the gray come out pretty soon. It's just something I decided to try out.
MLB.com: You were popular with your gray beard.
Span: I was. It's not like [the colored beard is] forever.
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.