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Updated: June 7th, 2011 3:58pm
Sore neck, dizziness sideline 'frustrated' and 'scared' Denard Span

Sore neck, dizziness sideline 'frustrated' and 'scared' Denard Span

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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CLEVELAND -- It just never ends.

Minnesota Twins outfielder Denard Span was sidelined from Tuesday night's game against the Cleveland Indians with lingering neck stiffness, dizziness and fogginess.

Span will travel back to Minneapolis on Tuesday night and the plan is for him to visit with doctors on Wednesday.

Span said the symptoms are similar to what he experienced in 2009 when he missed two weeks with what was eventually diagnosed as Vestibular Neuritis.

"Put it this way, it's a familiar feeling," said Span, who is hitting .294/.361/.385 on the season. "It's a familiar feeling from two years ago. ...

"I feel a little like somebody's kind of pushing me from the back a little bit. I'm not going to fall over, but it's the same exact feeling."

Span was sidelined with a sore neck for Saturday and Sunday's games in Kansas City after bumping into Royals catcher Brayan Pena at home plate on Friday night. Doctors put Span through concussion tests, but he passed them and was reinserted into the Twins lineup on Monday as the No. 3 hitter.

"I think after that collision, every at-bat since then has been (fuzzy)," said Span, who went 0-for-4 on Monday. "I had two more at-bats (Friday), and all four (Monday) night -- all four of my at-bats (Monday) are a blur. I'll be honest. ...

"I was twitching my eyes as the ball's coming. Give (right-hander Josh Tomlin) credit yesterday, but 86 (mph) -- I'm usually not too late on 86 too often."

Manager Ron Gardenhire wasn't made aware of Span's condition until after the game.

"I asked him why he didn't say something to me during the game, and he said he did not want to come out of the ballgame," Gardenhire said. "But after the ballgame he told the trainers he just didn't feel good. He was lightheaded, and that's not a good way to play baseball. ...

"Anytime, in my opinion, when you're dealing with lightheadedness on a baseball field, that's not a good thing. You have a guy throwing the ball 90-plus miles an hour at you and you're lightheaded or woozy, as he said he was, and that's dangerous. You have to have your faculties. And that's what kind of worried me after him telling me last night ...

"I wish he would have said something to me before the ballgame. I know these guys want to play. I know they've seen everybody else go down and all these things, but I don't want anybody to be silly about these things. And that was dangerous. If he was really feeling like that last night, which he told us he was, then that was dangerous."

Span said he had a mild headache on Monday and "wasn't feeling all the way well," but he figured once the game started "the adrenaline would take over and I would feel better, just being out there. But as the game went on, I wasn't myself. I didn't have the energy that I normally have. I just felt spaced out and just knew that I wasn't myself."

"I'm definitely scared," Span added. "I want to get this checked out. I'm frustrated, all those things. I'm not able to go out there and perform to my capabilities feeling this way. ...

"There's something wrong. I don't know what it is, so I want to get it taken care of."

Span underwent a brain MRI in 2009, and he says he's never suffered a concussion. And even though he followed up what turned out to be a career year in 2009 by playing a career-high 153 games in 2010, Span says the Vestibular Neuritis symptoms have never fully gone away.

"It's calmed down a lot and it's manageable, but it's been something I've dealt with since then."

Ben Revere will likely handle centerfield duties until Span is ready to return.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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