As we get closer and closer to baseball’s Opening Day, 34 year old Center Fielder Denard Span seems to have found the fountain of youth as he has put together an impressive Spring Training campaign so far. A key returning piece in the trade that sent Evan Longoria to the San Fransisco Giants, Span is going to be the elder statesman in the clubhouse in what, by all indications, seems like a rebuilding year for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Through the early portion of Spring Training so far Span has put together an impressive slash line batting with .368 average including 4 extra base hits in just 36 plate appearances. In addition to those numbers he has knocked in 10 runs and even stolen a couple of bases, showing that the 34 year old still contains the speed and quickness required to patrol the outfield in the majors. He had a particularly good outing against the Tigers on March 18th, garnering 3 hits in 4 at bats and knocking in a decisive 10-5 victory over the rebuilding Detroit squad. While Span has never made an All-Star Game in his career thus far, he has routinely been a solid plug-n-play outfielder for a number of major league teams. In short: he’s the type of piece the Rays will need to keep around if they want to remain competitive and exciting to watch even during the extensive rebuild operation.
While it is never a great idea to place too much stock in spring training results it has to give the Ray’s front office some solace to see a veteran player such as Denard Span showing up and putting in solid work in all facets of the game. Denard has been in the majors since 2008 when he came up with the Minnesota Twins organization, surely in what has been a tumultuous offseason for the Rays it has to feel good to see one of the few remaining older players leading the youngsters by example. Whether or not Span will remain a Ray past the trading deadline, of course, remains to be seen but if he’s putting up equivalents to the solid numbers we’ve seen so far in Spring Training then he will be intriguing trade bait to a team looking to make a serious playoff push. Hopefully Span can find a home in Tampa Bay continuing to play at the level he’s shown this Spring Training, but with the Rays front office you truly never can tell.