Span goes 1-for-4 in first game action since surgery

Span goes 1-for-4 in first game action since surgery

BOSTON -- Following one of their worst defensive showings of the young season, the Nationals received some pleasing news on Tuesday: Denard Span began his Minor League rehab assignment.

Span, who spent most of Spring Training on the disabled list while recovering from abdominal surgery, went 1-for-4 from the leadoff spot and played seven innings for Double-A Harrisburg. The Nationals plan on having him play a few nine-inning games before he rejoins the Major League club, and while that could happen soon, the exact date remains unknown.

"If you miss Spring Training and don't have any at-bats, it's difficult," manager Matt Williams said. "For me, Denard's healthy. When he's ready to go, we're getting him in baseball shape and getting his timing down. So whatever that takes is what we'll do. Can't really set a timetable on it because we just don't know."

The 31-year-old center fielder is widely considered one of the game's best defenders at his position and would be a welcome addition in the wake of the costly fielding miscues in Monday's 9-4 loss to the Red Sox.

Span should also provide a nice offensive boost for a hobbled lineup that has scored the second-fewest runs in the Majors entering Tuesday. He posted a .302/.355/.416 slash line with eight triples in 2014.

"Having [Span] back soon will be a nice little pickup for the team," designated hitter Clint Robinson said. "We're just doing the best we can to weather this storm right now with some of the key guys out, and then once they get back, we'll be firing on all cylinders."

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.