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09/22/09 8:59 PM ET
Span given day off after plunking
Twins outfielder suffering effects of mild concussion
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Denard Span's cell phone was buzzing with text messages all night long Monday, as family and friends checked to see if the Twins outfielder was OK after getting hit in the back of the head by a pitch. One of those messages was from former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter, who saw the video of Span getting hit on TV and wanted to see how he was doing. Span made sure to reply back to everyone that he was indeed OK. But on Tuesday, the day after suffering a mild concussion due to the plunking, Span was not in the lineup against the White Sox. Carlos Gomez took over the leadoff spot and was playing center field in Span's place. Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said the training staff felt it was best if Span was given the day to regroup and get back to feeling like himself. "That's kind of a scary thing," Gardenhire said of a player getting hit in the head. "We're fortunate enough he doesn't have to play tonight." Span said he was still feeling the effects of getting hit in the head. He had a headache that he said would come and go while also feeling like he was "a little foggy and in a little bit of a daze." It was a similar feeling to the one Span had when he missed time back in June due to dizziness caused by an inner ear infection. "It's definitely a little weird," Span said. "It feels like somebody punched me in the chin. ... I'm confident I will be all right." While he wasn't playing Tuesday, Span planned to take some swings in the batting cage and was in the outfield shagging balls during batting practice. He hopes to return to the lineup for Wednesday's series finale. "I don't really want to be out too long," Span said. "We'll see what happens tomorrow. We've got 11 games left [after Tuesday]. I know the team needs me. But also, I'll be smart. too. I'm not going to do anything that I think would harm myself. I'm not going to do anything dumb like that. I'll try to come through for my team as much as possible and play." While Span has been one of the club's key components with his versatility in the outfield and his consistency in the leadoff spot would be a big help in the Twins' pennant chase, Gardenhire will make sure that the outfielder doesn't take any unnecessary risks. He said that Span won't play on Wednesday if he exhibits similar symptoms to the ones he had Tuesday. "It's hard enough to play the game clear-headed," Gardenhire said. "I'm not going to deal with something like that. ... He's day-to-day, that's all I can do." Span said this is the first time, including when he played high school football, that he's suffered a concussion or any kind of head injury. It's what made the injury a little scarier, he said, and caused him to even dream about the moment he was struck in the helmet by left-hander Randy William's 91-mph fastball. It's not the first time that Gardenhire has seen one of his players get hit in the head by a pitch. Hunter was struck twice in the head in 2007, once in Spring Training in the side of the head and once in the regular season in his mouth. Justin Morneau also was forced to go on the disabled list back in 2005 when he suffered his fifth concussion as a result of getting struck in the temple. Gardenhire said the challenge is always figuring out when a player is ready to get back in the batter's box. "I think the big concern is always how he's going to react when he gets back in the lineup and faces a pitcher," Gardenhire said. "You can only go by a player and let them tell you when they're ready to do that. Some guys want to jump right back in. Other guys need a day or so. ... [You] just have to let them you when it is."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.