MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nats being careful with Span; Scherzer on mend

Outfielder rests after four straight games; righty could make next start

Nats being careful with Span; Scherzer on mend

MIAMI -- Nationals center fielder Denard Span was given the day off Saturday against the Marlins. After playing four consecutive games, Span's legs "were really heavy. But's that's part of the process," according to manager Matt Williams.

With Span out of the lineup, Bryce Harper moved from right to center field, while Reed Johnson received a start in right field.

"What we have to be mindful of is that we don't want to push [Span] too hard, because this is a long-term thing," Williams said. "We have a lot of games left. I want to make sure he is healthy for the rest of the season. Four in a row and a day off is probably the best thing to do. After today, let him go again. He'll let us know how he feels from there. He is playing well."

After missing almost a month of action because of an abdominal injury, Span has already proven that he is still one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball.

In the fifth inning of Friday's 3-2 loss against Miami, Span made two impressive catches off the bats of Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto.

"[Span] reads balls well. He reads the angle of the batted balls well. He got both of them. The one that was over his head was pretty good," Williams said.

Right-hander Max Scherzer's right thumb is still sore, and he didn't have his scheduled bullpen session Saturday. However, that does not mean he will miss his next start, which would be next week against the Braves, according to Williams. Scherzer jammed his thumb against the Cardinals on Thursday while he was in the batter's box.

"We pushed [Scherzer's] bullpen a day and trying to get [the rest of the swelling] out of there. So we'll see how it goes," Williams said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He can also be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.