Mackey: One month after concussion, Denard Span not close to a return
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MINNEAPOLIS -- One month after suffering whiplash and a concussion in a collision with Kansas City Royals catcher Brayan Pena on June 3, Minnesota Twins outfielder Denard Span remains sidelined with no return date in sight.
Stop me if you've heard a similar tale.
"It's very frustrating," Span said while sitting at his locker stall prior to Sunday's win over the Milwaukee Brewers. "It's hard to come here every day and watch everybody going to work and you have to sit here stagnant. It's been very trying on me as a person, but I've been trying to stay positive and support my teammates. Every now and then I get in a stale mood, but I try not to let them see it, but it all depends on how I'm feeling."
Span tried playing in Cleveland two days after the collision, but he went 0-for-4 while experiencing dizziness and fogginess and was eventually placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list later that week.
After shutting down most activities for a week or two, Span began ramping things up to the point where the team hoped he could take batting practice outdoors at Target Field before the end of this past holiday weekend, but that plan went "out the window," he said Sunday.
Span said he "didn't feel too good" following a light workout in the sweltering heat on Friday, describing his symptoms as "light-headed" and "foggy."
"I'm not sure if (the heat) was the reason why, but I'm pretty sure that didn't help. But I've got to test it out and see if I can get through it ... I've been feeling good up until that point. (Saturday) was a better day."
Span hit off a tee on Saturday, did nothing on Sunday, then ran sprints in the outfield on Monday and took some cuts in the indoor batting cage, according to head athletic trainer Rick McWane.
Even if he were to string together a few good days in a row, Span would likely need a week-long rehab assignment before being activated, and with the All-Star break approaching, that pushes things into mid-July -- best-case scenario.
"This is the longest I've ever done no baseball activity. Even in '08 when I broke my finger, I wasn't able to swing with both hands, but I still went in the cage with one-hand drills."
In 2009, when Span missed two weeks with Vestibular Neuritis, which caused similar symptoms, he said "it seemed like I was able to do more (activities). It wasn't like this. I remember maybe for about a week, maybe, I didn't do much, but it wasn't like this where I wasn't able to do nothing for this long time."
The obvious parallel for the Twins is first baseman Justin Morneau, who suffered a concussion on July 7, 2010 and didn't play in another baseball game until midway through spring training.
Span has kept in touch with Morneau, who remains sidelined after neck surgery.
"It's hard to relay how I'm feeling ... to put into words how I'm feeling," Span said. "It's a little easier when you know that somebody's been through it, and to go to them and tell them ... He asked me how I'm feeling, and he knows that expression (I give), and he just says, 'If you're feeling good, don't try to (overdo it).'"
As Morneau attempted to work his way back throughout the second half of last season, trainers and doctors determined on more than one occasion that he should be shut down almost entirely.
Although Span is frustrated, he says trainers and doctors have not yet advised him to shut things down completely.
"We haven't talked about that yet with the training staff. We've just been taking it one day at a time, trying to string along as many good days as possible. We haven't even thought about that. It's not even in the equation yet.
"But if you would have asked me this three, four weeks ago, would I still be sitting right here not even getting ready to do a rehab assignment? I probably would have told you I'd have been ready by now, or getting closer than what I am."
Prior to being sidelined, Span was hitting .294/.361/.385 with 32 runs scored in 255 plate appearances, and it's possible had he kept hitting at that pace the 27-year-old could have been in the running to represent the Twins in the All-Star game -- an honor that went to Michael Cuddyer.
"I truly believe one of these years, more than once, I will be in that game," Span said. "I'm not going to stop working until that happens. For whatever reason, (God) didn't want me to be there in 2011."
Instead, Span will continue to wait -- for his All-Star nod and for a stretch of days without symptoms.