As a Twins fan I’ve always known Denard Span as being from Florida, but Amanda Comak of the Washington Times has the story of how the Nationals’ new center fielder was actually born in Washington, D.C.:
“I don’t think (my mom, Wanda Wilson) planned on having me in Washington, D.C.,” Span said Thursday with a brief laugh. “I think she’d planned on having me in Fort Lauderdale. I ended up just popping out early.”
Wilson, who attended college in the District, was visiting family when she was pregnant with Span. Span said his uncle had lived in D.C. for over 20 years. She was planning on the trip to be nothing more than that, but Wilson went into labor and Span will have D.C. on his birth certificate for eternity.
I wrote a really long article about the Span trade from the Twins’ perspective, but the Nationals’ version is this: Span is a very good all-around player and a helluva guy who combines good on-base skills with plus defense at an up-the-middle position. Washington is going to love him and the fact that he was born there probably won’t hurt, either.
The Red Sox have some tough decisions to make in advance of the World Series next week; namely, what to do with some of their hottest-hitting players once the series shifts to a National League park — and National League rules. During a press conference on Saturday, manager Alex Cora said he’d be open to the idea of starting All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts at second base when the club’s regular DH, J.D. Martinez, is forced to play the outfield during away games.
The Red Sox carry home field advantage through the Fall Classic, so Games 1 and 2 will be played at Fenway Park — as well as Games 6 and 7, should those become necessary. Depending on the outcome of NLCS Game 7 later tonight, World Series Games 3 through 5 will be played at Dodger Stadium or Miller Park. That’s when Betts might take over the keystone from Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt, both of whom have shared second base duties over the course of the 2018 postseason.
The idea isn’t without merit. Betts and Martinez comprise two of the team’s top talents at the plate and, should the Red Sox need to stave off elimination in Games 4 and 5, sitting either of them doesn’t make sense. The 26-year-old Betts led the team with a staggering .346/.438/.640 batting line, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and career-best 10.4 fWAR over 614 PA, while Martinez posted some career totals of his own, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs, a 1.031 OPS, and 5.9 fWAR in 649 PA. This wouldn’t be the first time Betts has taken reps at second, either, as he’s logged 15 games at the position over the course of his five-year career, most recently during a 4-1 win over the Yankees in August.
Whether or not Betts is considered a lock for all three games is another question, one to which Cora didn’t give a definite answer. “I don’t know, man,” the skipper told reporters Saturday. “[Betts] already played second during the regular season, so there’s always a chance, I guess.” He later added that while Betts would be taking ground balls at second, it’s part of the routine he’s maintained all year — so nothing should be read into it until a clear decision has been announced.