Posted at 7:27 PM on April 17, 2008
by David Zingler
Despite playing well, Denard Span lost the centerfielder competition to Carlos Gomez this spring. After Michael Cuddyer's hand injury however, the 24-year-old found himself with the big club playing a new position. I caught up with the former 1st round pick before tonight's game for a quick chat:
DZ: You've been up here about two weeks now, what are your impressions so far?
SPAN: I am just living my dream, man. I am having the time of my life and I definitely see the difference playing up here; the game is a lot faster. You've got to be ready to play every day and every play.
DZ: Where were you when you found out about your call-up?
SPAN: I was in Richmond, VA in the hotel after our second Triple A game. I had seen that Cuddyer had gotten hurt but I don't play rightfield so I didn't think that I would be getting the call.
DZ: Did you play rightfield at all in the minors?
SPAN: I had not -- at all.
DZ: How about in high school?
SPAN: In high school, I played rightfield during my 11th grade year.
DZ: You got your first hit shortly after (your call-up), what did you do with the ball?
SPAN: I've got it in my locker right now in a zip-lock bag. I've got my first hit and my first RBI (ball).
DZ: What is the difference between playing rightfield and centerfield?
SPAN: The ball just takes different spins - when a righty is up and hits the ball at you, it kind of fades toward the line. Sometimes, for me, its kind of hard to see how hard the ball is hit standing in rightfield...you don't see whether the pitch is inside or outside. That's been the toughest adjustment for me so far.
DZ: I am guessing you probably still think of yourself as a centerfielder.
SPAN: Oh yeah, I am not a rightfielder.
DZ: How long would you have to play out there to think of yourself as a rightfielder?
SPAN: I don't know. Right now, I'll play wherever. I am in the big leagues, living my dream.
DZ: How about the Dome here; has it taken you a while to get used to it?
SPAN: You know what, it wasn't too bad, maybe about two days. I caught pop flies my first day and the next day I caught them again. After that, I kind of got used to the lights and the top of the Dome.
DZ: You had strong spring training, kind of opened some eyes, but it still wasn't enough to come north with the team. How did you deal with that?
SPAN: Initially it was definitely tough. I put in a lot of hard work, but I understand what happened. I just put it in my mind to go down to Triple A and try to have fun and not be bitter. I didn't want to get down on myself and be bitter - I would just be hurting myself.
DZ: When you have a competition with Carlos Gomez and the other guys in spring training - obviously you're friends and teammates - how do you keep the balance between the competition and the friendship?
SPAN: I wouldn't say it's tough. When you are out on that field it's all about business. I can't control what he can do, I can't control what anybody else does, I can only control what I do. When I get on the field, I just try to do what I can do and play hard to the best of my ability and let the rest (work itself out). (Gomez) is a great guy, I know it's not about character or personality.