Denard Span 'getting better,' but still feeling 'spaced out' at times
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MINNEAPOLIS -- In a scene similar to what many might experience on the first day of school this week, Minnesota Twins outfielder Denard Span walked into the clubhouse Monday morning to a series of warm greetings from his teammates and manager.
Sidelined since Aug. 13 with lingering migraine and concussion symptoms, Span spent a week at his home in Florida during the Twins' last home stand, and he did not accompany the team on their six-game road trip.
Monday was the first time Span has been back in a team-environment in more than two weeks, but he's not ready to play yet.
"Just in general, it's made me have a lot of time to think about a lot of things," Span said about his recent time off. "I never realized how much this game means to me, and how for so long I've taken things for granted. So I'm just waiting patiently. But I do truly believe that I will be back on the field. When? I don't know. But I will be back."
Span has been working out on his own schedule and at his own pace both in Florida and since returning to Minneapolis last Friday, but he hopes to rejoin the team's pre-game workout schedule sometime soon.
"It's getting better," Span said. "It's up and down, my energy level. I came in here and worked out (Sunday), and just sometimes it's a battle with my energy level. I feel good for 30, 45 minutes, and all of the sudden my energy level (goes down), and I just get spaced out, and it'll last for another half hour and I have to battle through that, then it'll go away. It's just more of a back-and-forth thing right now."
Span suffered a concussion on June 3 in Kansas City and spent nearly two months on the disabled list before returning -- amid swirling trade rumors -- at the beginning of August. He played two weeks through lingering fuzziness, dizziness and other concussion- and migraine-related symptoms before being sidelined again.
Now Span is just hoping to get back on the field in any capacity before the season ends.
"I would like to go into the offseason having played in some games before I leave here," Span said. "I'd rather do that than go into the offseason not playing at all, and then showing up in February during spring training like, 'Which shoe do I put my foot in?' Even if I go out there and embarrass myself -- I just want to get out there and get back to competing and getting that feeling of playing this game. ...
"I've kind of just been on my own time schedule. I know when to back off, when I get a certain feeling, so I think I'll know more once I get back out there with everybody and moving at the same pace and same speed as I normally would if I was playing every day."
Span was sidelined for a short period in 2009 with what was described as Vestibular Neuritis -- in relation to an inner-ear infection -- and he said earlier this summer that his dizziness and fogginess symptoms have never fully gone away.
But the symptoms he's dealing with now are slightly different than those from 2009.
"When I had the inner ear infection, I didn't feel like my mind or my brain got emotional, or certain things -- it wasn't as mentally challenging," Span said. "It was frustrating, because I was dizzy and I didn't know what, but I didn't feel like mentally challenged, I guess. This year I felt like my mind is, at times, moves slow. ...
"When I came back and tried to play (in August), that was one of the things I felt the difference of. I felt like mentally I couldn't keep up with the game. I had never felt like that. I always felt like I could keep up and compete. In 2009, there was still games when I came off the DL when I was still dizzy, but I still had my energy level and I still could concentrate. I just felt a little dizzy at times. So I think this has been more of a focus and concentration (thing)."
Part of the problem for Span -- as was the case with Justin Morneau last season -- is that his symptoms are hard to quantify.
"It's not a normal injury," he said. "I'm not walking around with a cast or stitches in my arm or my elbow, so sometimes you start wondering if people believe what you're telling them how you feel. Mentally, it's just little stuff like that that you have to deal with. ...
"You know how this game is, this sport -- all masculine sports. Everybody feels like if you're not bleeding you should go out there and tough it out and play. I tried doing that. It's not like I didn't try to do that. That's been tough for me."