Nats place Span on DL with back tightness

Optimistic about diagnosis, club recalls Difo; Barrett activated from DL

Nats place Span on DL with back tightness

BALTIMORE -- Nationals outfielder Denard Span, who has been battling back spasms for more than a month, visited with a specialist in Dallas on Thursday. An MRI and further tests showed "no structural damage," according to manager Matt Williams, but the Nationals on Friday placed Span on the 15-day disabled list with back tightness in hopes of curing the problem.

"It's good news," Williams said before Friday's series opener in Baltimore. "The specialist he saw [found] nothing alarming, which is good."

The Nationals believe the two abdominal surgeries Span underwent in early spring and the lack of Spring Training as a result may be a cause for the back problems.

"[We] gave him another set of exercises to further his strength," Williams said. "So he'll start that process and be back quickly."

The move is retroactive to Tuesday. With a rainout on Wednesday and the upcoming All-Star break, Span would miss fewer than 11 games if he spends the minimum 15 days on the DL.

He is currently the eighth Nationals player on the disabled list.

Span was batting .304 with 11 stolen bases -- most on the team -- before being shut down temporarily.

Difo's first career hit

Infielder Wilmer Difo was recalled in the corresponding move. Difo, who has two previous stints with the Nationals this season, is 1-for-6 in six pinch-hit appearances.

The Nationals also activated right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett from the disabled list. Barrett, who was down since June 12 with a right biceps strain, made four strong appearances with Class A Advanced Potomac.

Barrett escapes jam

"He's our strikeout guy against a tough right-handed hitter," Williams said Friday. "Pressure situation, he's ready for that, like he always is. If that opportunity presents itself tonight, then he's an option for us."

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