NEW YORK -- The Nationals received great news on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field before their 3-2 loss to the Mets. Center fielder Denard Span participated in baseball activities for the first time since being placed on the disabled list on July 10 because of back tightness.
Span took 30 swings off a tee and then played catch in the outfield without any problems. Span doesn't know when he will return to action, but the big test will come when he starts working out at Nationals Park next week. Span is still trying to strengthen his back and abdominal muscles, which were surgically repaired during Spring Training.
The key for Span is sprinting aggressively and progressively swinging the bat.
"Just going at a level where I need to play at and seeing how my body recovers," Span said. "Swinging hard, sprinting hard and seeing how I feel the next day -- see if my back locks up the next couple of days. I'm going to see if I have those aches and pains. If I can do those things and I feel good, I might come back."
Span was able to lift weights the last couple of days, and there are certain exercises that aggravate the back and abdominal muscles, so he is staying away from those exercises.
"I think now I'm about to put the rubber to the road and see where I'm at and test it out," Span said. "... I've been stagnant for a long time. I haven't swung the bat in three weeks. It felt good to pick the bat up and just get some movement going.
"I've been running the last couple of days. I miss being here. I miss the guys. I miss being around the team. It's been tough."
Span has been productive when he's played, hitting .304 with five home runs and 22 RBIs.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.