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.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.