Span returns to leadoff spot against righty starter

Span returns to leadoff spot against righty starter

MILWAUKEE -- With Brewers right-hander Donovan Hand on the mound Saturday evening, Nationals manager Davey Johnson decided to return center fielder Denard Span to the leadoff spot.

No surprise there, because entering Saturday's action, Span was hitting .312 against right-handers this year. Against lefties, Span will likely hit seventh, while Bryce Harper leads off.

Against lefties, Span is 16-for-105 [.152] and Johnson would like Span to bunt more often when facing southpaws.

"He hasn't bunted hardly at all this year. He has bunted four times," Johnson said. "I would like to see him open that back up."

There is no denying that Span is one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball. It's not only because he hasn't made an error this year, his range is spectacular. He often plays shallow in center, but he often catches the ball when it is hit over his head. One is often reminded of Paul Blair, who won eight Gold Glove Awards playing center field for the Orioles.

"I like the way he plays center field. I like him to play shallow. He makes tremendous reads of the ball," Johnson said. "You are kind of shocked sometimes when the ball is in the ballpark and he didn't catch it. He has certainly been a plus for us."

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