Span hits the wall, takes a day off

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2012 - 12:19 AM

Denard Span started the Twins' first 28 games this year, so manager Ron Gardenhire said he was looking for a chance to give him a break.

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Twins center fielder Denard Span

Photo: Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

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Denard Span started the Twins' first 28 games this year, so manager Ron Gardenhire said he was looking for a chance to give him a break.

After slamming into the center-field wall to steal a hit from Howie Kendrick on Monday night, Span felt a little sore when he woke up the next morning. Gardenhire decided to rest Span on Tuesday, using Erik Komatsu as the leadoff man and center fielder against the Angels.

"I never go in there and ask for a day off, but I have played a lot," Span said. "I think going on what happened last year, this is smart to have a day to breathe a little bit. Also, running into the wall didn't help things, but I feel pretty good."

Last year, Span started 55 of the first 56 games but missed 91 of the final 106 games because of a concussion and then migraine symptoms.

Asked why he went with Komatsu in the leadoff spot, Gardenhire said, "He's our hottest hitter. He got two hits [Monday] night, so I put him out there."

The manager was only half-joking.

"Listen, [Komatsu's] a leadoff guy," Gardenhire said. "He can run the bases, can steal some bases, slaps the ball around. That's what he profiles as. That's where we're going to put him."

Sticking with Valencia

Danny Valencia went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, extending his hitless streak to 21 at-bats.

Gardenhire had said Jamey Carroll might get some chances to play third base, but the Twins needed Carroll to play second base with Alexi Casilla nursing a sore right shoulder.

"Danny's ready to play," Gardenhire said. "He had a little [back stiffness last week] out in Anaheim, and I gave him a day [off last Wednesday]. I don't think he needs a day to relax. ... A good two-hit day will probably make him feel pretty good about himself."

Hitting coach Joe Vavra has been trying to get Valencia to keep his head still on his swing, but it's been a hard habit for the third baseman to break. Valencia entered the game batting .207 with one home run, 10 RBI and a .536 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage). The major league average OPS at third base is .732.

"He's working on all kinds of things," Gardenhire said. "We talked about doing what got him here, and that's hit a fastball. He gets a little jumpy, trying to get out there when he's ahead in the count. In this league, people see that, and they start spinning the ball, so you start missing."

Etc.

• Josh Willingham returned to the lineup after missing one game because of a skin irritation and delivered a two-out, RBI double in the first inning, right before Ryan Doumit connected for a two-run homer.

• The Twins added two runs in the fourth, when Komatsu (sacrifice fly) and Brian Dozier (two-out single) each delivered his first career RBI in back-to-back plate appearances.

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