Span returns to camp, begins rehab on core muscle

Nationals center fielder expected to be held out of baseball activities at least 4-6 weeks

Span returns to camp, begins rehab on core muscle

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals center fielder Denard Span arrived at Space Coast Stadium on Thursday morning, a day earlier than expected, to begin the rehab process on his right core muscle.

Nationals manager Matt Williams said Span felt better this time compared to how he felt after he returned from hernia surgery in December. Williams sensed Span came to camp with a clear mind.

"He knows it's going to be awhile," Williams said. "'I've got to get through this, but once I'm good, I'm good. I don't have to worry about this all season trying to play through something and not be as full strength as I want to be.'"

Span told Williams the surgery only lasted about 30 minutes.

Span is expected to be sidelined from baseball activities for at least four to six weeks, then the Nationals will have a better gauge on how quickly he can return. Though Williams acknowledged it was nice for Span to get started with his rehab, the team will move him along slowly, especially at the beginning.

"It's small stuff right now, simply walking around to make sure it doesn't get too tight on him," Williams said. "We also have to be mindful that it is a repaired muscle. Can't do too much too soon or it simply tears again."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.