Outfielder Denard Span had mixed emotions after the Giants traded him and three other players to the Rays for third baseman Evan Longoria in December.Tampa is Span's home. He will be with his family more often, and closer to his foundation, which helps single-parent families. But Span felt he had
Outfielder Denard Span had mixed emotions after the Giants traded him and three other players to the Rays for third baseman Evan Longoria in December.
Tampa is Span's home. He will be with his family more often, and closer to his foundation, which helps single-parent families. But Span felt he had unfinished business in San Francisco and was motivated to help the team rebound from its 98-loss 2017 season.
"Everything went wrong," Span said in the podcast Newsmakers. "You can try to point your finger at one thing. I read a lot of stuff. They said the outfield defense was bad. They said this was bad.
"Everything was bad. It was just a bad season. But that didn't define the character of our team. We went out there and gave good effort, I feel, but things didn't click."
Span is motivated to have his best season since 2014, when he was with the Nationals. That year, Span was one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball. He was also one of the game's top leadoff hitters, tying (with Ben Revere) for the most hits in the National League and ranking among the NL leaders in multi-hit games, doubles and stolen bases.
Injuries hampered Span over the next three years. The worst one came toward the end of the 2015 season, when he had hip surgery. He wasn't expected to be 100 percent until June 2016. But Span didn't miss many games once he signed a three-year deal with the Giants for $31 million before the 2016 season. He played in 272 games in his two seasons with the Giants, but acknowledged that he didn't fully recover from the hip surgery. Span wasn't consistent in the batter's box or with the glove.
"Year 1 [with the Giants], I was not [healthy]," Span said. "That season was like swimming uphill, taking a lot of anti-inflammatories. When that season ended, getting off the anti-inflammatories, it felt like I got hit by a bus, because I played through so much. I masked through a lot of pain. I had a short offseason [after the 2016 season] because we made it through the playoffs that year, even though we didn't get out of the first round. I was still cautious in my training. When you have injuries, psychologically, it does something to you."
Span says he is having his best offseason since before the '14 season.
"I've been able to attack the offseason -- just being aggressive," Span said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do this upcoming season. This is the first offseason where I'm trusting my body -- pushing the envelope a little bit. I'm getting aggressive with a lot of things that I'm doing this offseason.
"I'm realizing me -- now, after two mediocre years -- me being on the field is not enough. I have to be dynamic. That's what I've been able bring to a ballclub. It's my athletic ability and energy. If I don't have that, I might as well be on the couch."
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also could be found on Twitter @ladsonbill24.