Posted at 10:12 PM on April 14, 2009
by David Zingler
Since he broke onto the big league scene last summer there hasn't been a Twins player more fun to watch - or talk to - than Denard Span. I caught up with the personable outfielder before tonight's extra inning win.
DZ: Last year at this time you were up for your first stint in the big leagues, this year you are a vital member of the team. Talk about the difference.
SPAN: It's a big difference. Last year, Cuddyer got hurt - I was up because of that reason - only that reason. At this stage last year, I was kind of like in awe - I couldn't believe I was here. This year - like you said - I am leading off and - so far - playing everyday. It's just a dream come true and I am just having fun and enjoying every day I have in the big leagues.
DZ: In spring training - with the bat, at least - you struggled. Was that just you trying different things - or what was the reason for that?
SPAN: I wasn't trying to do different things, I was trying to do what I did last year. You take some time off during the off season and you kind of lose your timing and lose some of the stuff you were doing last year...for some reason I just couldn't get that good feeling going in spring training.
DZ: Did you ever think, "What if I would have had a spring like that last year?"
SPAN: I feel like I had a good spring (last year) and I was sent down, so it was just crazy that when I did good I got sent down and when I did terrible I made the team. I really wasn't thinking about that too much.
DZ: Last year when you were called up you were put in rightfield and pretty much stayed there all year. You told me last year that you thought of yourself as a centerfielder - this year you are playing everywhere (in the outfield).
SPAN: I don't know what I am now (laughs). I am going to be honest with you; everyday I've been out there playing somewhere new...today I am shagging out there in rightfield...I played rightfield on Sunday...I wouldn't say it's tougher, but it's different (playing all outfield positions)...something I've never done in my short career. Everyday it's a new position and the ball is coming at you from different angles...and slicing different ways. It's just a little harder for me to break on the ball like I normally would if I were playing there everyday.
DZ: Who is faster, you or (Carlos) Gomez?
SPAN: Wow, I've heard that question a lot.
DZ: I'm sure.
SPAN: I don't have a problem with saying he is. That doesn't mean I believe that...he can run and I can run. You'd probably ask a lot of people and they'd probably say him, but we both can run so it doesn't matter.
DZ: You're not slow, that's for sure.
SPAN: I don't care about that. When I was 18, 19 years-old I got caught up in "I am faster than you, you are faster than me", but I am 25-years-old now so I really don't care. We're all in the big leagues and we're both bringing a dimension to the team that is exciting.
DZ: Have you ever been challenged to race in spring training?
SPAN: No, they don't do that. The main thing is, they don't want us to go out there and pull a hamstring or anything like that.
DZ: This the pros, maybe in high school.
SPAN: (laughs) When I was 18, 19, I'd be like "Let's line it up" or whatever - "Let's go". Now, if he wants to be faster, he can be faster.
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)