Span on his first Nats homer: “Hopefully, it will happen more often than once a year”

Center fielder Denard Span finally did it: hit his first homer in a Nationals uniform, his first homer since October of last year while with the Twins.

“Felt good to get the monkey off my back,” Span smiled. “It hasn’t taken this long to hit a home run in a while, probably since A ball. But it felt good.

“It has been a long season for me offensively. Just felt good to get one over the wall. My home trot was definitely a little rusty.”

Left fielder Bryce Harper, who hit a two-run shot of his own Saturday in the 4-1 win over the Mets, was thrilled to see his outfield mate finally get hold of one.

“That is pretty cool seeing that,” Harper said. “Denard has got some pop. Hopefully, he doesn’t get too cocky and stay a little humble.”

Manager Davey Johnson said the dugout was buzzing after Ian Desmond hit a solo shot against the Mets’ Dillon Gee. Then, just like that, Span was up cranking one.

“He swung at the first pitch. We all about fell out on the bench,” Johnson said. “But he did that on the road (in) Miami. When he goes from the one hole to the seven hole, he becomes more aggressive. I like that.”

Span, a six-year veteran, said it was a rare moment. He had only 23 homers in his career before Saturday’s blast, just four last season.

“I am not a home run hitter,” Span conceded. “It feels good to round the bases a couple times of year. I am always sprinting down to first base, sprinting for a double or a triple. It always feels good to give my legs a little bit of a rest and Cadillac around the bases. That is something I don’t try to do. Hopefully, it will happen more often than once a year.”

Span said he has been able to be a little more aggressive farther down in the lineup after struggling this season to get something going in the leadoff spot.

“I am hitting seventh, so I don’t have to worry about going up there to see pitches,” Span said.

“By the time I get up there, I have already seen six guys hit. I already have a good idea what that pitcher is doing. If I get up there and they throw me a first pitch fast ball, I am going to swing. It is different leading off I try to see as many pitches as possible. But hitting seventh, there really are no rules hitting seventh.”

Span’s relaxed nature at the plate might be a good sign for the rest of the lineup. It is a formula the Nationals hope will get something going offensively as July comes to a close. Three out of four is a positive step.

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