Denard Span is surprisingly leading off and playing center field for the Twins tonight in his first game action since August 13.
Span suffered a concussion in a collision at the plate on June 3 and pushed himself to return two months later despite continuing to experience dizziness and other symptoms. He went 2-for-35 (.057) in nine games and was shut down again, but has said all along that he wanted to play at least a couple times before the year was over.
Obviously it’s great to see Span back, but there’s no indication that he’s completely symptom-free and rushing his recovery just so he can appear in a few meaningless September games seems unnecessarily risky for the Twins.
Last time Span clearly wasn’t himself despite going on a minor-league rehab assignment before rejoining the lineup and Justin Morneau recently suffered a setback with his own concussion recovery 15 months after his initial brain injury.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.