Denard Span’s mom is a great hitting coach

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Outfielder Denard Span has not had a great first year with the Washington Nationals. Acquired from the Twins in the off-season for pitching prospect Alex Meyer, the Nats expected Span to be a threat on the bases and provide some occasional power. Span, however, entered this afternoon’s game against the Royals hitting .264 with just two home runs and 11 stolen bases in 17 attempts.

Span’s mother texted her son last night with some sage hitting advice. Via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

As the tweet notes, Span homered in the seventh inning today against Royals starter Ervin Santana. Span also swung at the first pitch from Santana in the top of the third inning and singled, and got another hit on the first pitch in the ninth against Royals closer Greg Holland. He finished the day 4-for-5, raising his batting average to .270 in the process.

You may recall that Mrs. Span had been in the news previously when Denard inadvertently hit her with a foul ball during a spring training game against the Yankees in 2010.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves