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Span's season is over, and maybe his Nats career as well


Span's season is over, and maybe his Nats career as well

Just 72 hours before he was set to undergo season-ending surgery on his left hip, Denard Span stood at his locker in the Nationals clubhouse to address the media, all but resigned to the fact his career in Washington is almost certain to be over.

Just four days earlier he spoke to reporters in the exact same spot having just returned off the disabled list. He was ready for the homestretch of the season, positive the Nats could still make something of what was drawing close to being a lost year. He was optimistic that his body could hold up, that he could play through pain and give it one more go with the team that traded for him before the 2013 season.

But those hopes were dashed when the pain became unbearable, too much to play through. The moment came where Span had to confer with his mother - his closest confidant - and decide what was best for his career. Span was too hurt to help the Nationals in the capacity he was used to, and he will be a free agent this coming winter. The decision was made: undergo surgery and hope to be ready for 2016 spring training, wherever that may be.

Of course, that was not an easy call. And now Span has a long road back, a four to six month recovery that will have him walking with crutches at first. He will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn labrum. The procedure will involve shaving down his hip bone.

"It’s just frustrating, man, but I’m trying to stay positive as much as possible and just try to trust in God’s plan that I will overcome this. It’s just another chapter in my book. That’s all I can do right now," he said.

Span said he first felt pain in his hip when he saw a back specialist right after the All-Star break. He received a cortisone shot in his back which helped alleviate the spasms he was suffering through. But the hip just continued to get worse.

Span then saw a hip specialist and received a cortisone shot for that. It took him another six weeks to return to the field, but he knew the hip would continue to be an issue.

Span thought he could play through the pain. He was not 100 percent when he took the field on Tuesday against the San Diego Padres, but played anyway. He didn't expect the injury to be as painful as it turned out to be.

"I was on the field, but that was difficult. The first game I came in and got the standing ovation, that was the best/worst feeling ever. The fans were happy that I was back, but deep down I knew that I couldn't give them what I normally can bring to this game and to the ballclub. People were telling me 'you looked good last game.' Yeah, I looked good. But I didn't feel good," he said.

The back and hip problems came on the heels of two offseason surgeries for Span. He had surgery in December to repair a sports hernia and then another procedure in March to fix one of his core muscles.

"It’s been a terrible eight months for me. Really almost a full year," he said.

Span returned to the Nationals for the 2015 season after the team picked up his option in October. It was his third season in Washington - where he was born in 1984 - and in all likelihood his last.

If that is the case, Span will leave D.C. with the team record for hits (184) in a single season. That capped off a year in which he batted .302 with 94 runs, 31 steals and finished with NL MVP votes.

Span will now enter free agency and most likely get a multi-year deal with another club. With rookie Michael Taylor in store, the Nationals have the luxury of moving on from Span. There is always the possibility he could be back, but Span has come to grips with the fact his career in D.C. is probably over.

"I didn't think about it until just reading some people's comments on Twitter. That Wednesday night I didn't think that it was going to be my last game. I didn't have time to process that because I had so much other stuff going on. But the last couple of days it has been entering my mind, just seeing everybody's well wishes and seeing people on Twitter appreciating me for what I brought to this organization on and off the field," he said.

"It has made me sad because I've enjoyed my three years here. I feel like coming here really resurrected my career. Coming from Minnesota, this trade was probably the best thing for me at the time. I've learned a lot here from the coaching staff and my teammates. It's just been a good time here."

Span is unsure of where he will spend most of his time the rest of this year as he recovers. He did say, however, that he plans to make at least a few appearances at Nats Park before the season is over.

"I haven't decided. I'm sure I'll stick my head in here. I've got to come back and try to get my things together. I don't know how I'll be moving with the crutches and stuff. But I'm sure that you'll be seeing me again before I get out of town. I'll say my farewell to everybody. I'm not going to be one of those guys that disappears. I want to make sure I shake everybody's hand and say goodbye, because this might be the last time."

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?


Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.