Updates on Span and Escobar as Nats’ injury report grows

PHILADELPHIA - About an hour before first pitch, Nationals center fielder Denard Span experienced another bout of back spasms and was forced to sit out tonight’s 5-2 win over the Phillies.

Span said he felt fine when he showed up at Citizens Bank Park and proceeded to go through his regular pregame routine. His batting practice session in the cage was interrupted by a meeting. When Span stood back up to go resume hitting, his back locked up on him.

“It’s more frustrating than anything,” Span said. “This is probably the second or third time this has happened. But each time I’ve gotten it worked on, I’ve come back within a day and then I’ve felt fine. I’ve ran around and stolen bases. I think if it was something serious that I wouldn’t be able to come back the very next day and get back on the field.”

Span initially began experiencing the back spasms late in a June 7 loss to the Cubs. He’s battled injuries since the end of last season, undergoing hernia surgery last December and core muscle surgery in March. The latter procedure caused Span to start the season on the disabled list, delaying his debut until April 19. Span has also been hampered by a sore right knee at times this year.

“We gotta figure this out,” Span said. “Every four, five days, six days my back is locking up. It’s definitely not good. It something I’ve never experienced. I think it stems from everything I’ve had to go through this whole season. You know, not having an offseason. Not having a spring training and having two surgeries. Just trying to give it my all.”

Nationals manager Matt Williams said it’s concerning because there isn’t any indication of what is causing the spasms to flare up.

“We have to continue to make sure he’s loose and stretched and strong and all of the things we need to do so he’ll continue that work,” Williams said.

Escobar-in-Pain-HBP-Sidebar.jpgThe Nationals’ medical report was lengthened three batters into tonight’s game when Phillies starter Aaron Harang ran an 89 mph fastball in on third baseman Yunel Escobar, striking him on the back of the left hand. Escobar fell to his knees and was tended to immediately by Williams and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz. Escobar remained in the game to run the bases, but left once the inning ended.

“Preliminary X-rays were negative,” Williams said. “It’s pretty swollen, so we’ll see how he is tomorrow, but good news on the X-ray anyway.”

Escobar, whose .322 batting average is fourth-best in the National League, said through a team spokeswoman that he’ll be fine.

With Anthony Rendon (strained left quad) joining Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) and Jayson Werth (fractured left hand) on the DL earlier today, and Bryce Harper (tight right hamstring) resting again, the Nationals’ reserves were somehow able to string together five runs on nine hits.

Matt den Dekker, who was thrust into the starting lineup when Span was scratched, blasted a two-run homer in the sixth inning. It was den Dekker’s first with the Nats and second of his career.

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