Denard Span is focusing on finishing the season strong. He just hopes he's not finishing his Twins career at the same time.
Hoping. That's that key word here. In recent years, Span has heard his name bounced around in trade rumors, and it got into his head. He worried that he was being dealt more than hoping he'd remain a Twin.
He's become a veteran at handling trade rumors.
"I know that's already starting up," Span said." This is my third time, including last year at the trade deadline and this past offseason. I know it's starting up.
"Whatever happens is going to happen. I've come to the conclusion that there's nothing I can do and it's not a bad thing. It's because we've got two quality players [along with Ben Revere] who play the same position, and whatever happens, happens."
Span, 28, has been the Twins' center fielder and leadoff hitter for most of his five seasons with the club. After battling concussion symptoms and other issues last season -- limiting him to 70 games and a .264 batting average -- Span has rebounded this season to bat .288 with three home runs, 36 RBI and 14 stolen bases.
In fact, Span leads the Twins in Win Above Replacement (WAR) a sabermetric term that attempts to measure a player's value to a team compared with a "replacement'' player, deemed to be of minor league or bench caliber.
If Span wasn't in the lineup, how much would the Twins be hurt? Span's WAR of 4.0, entering Monday, was 14th among all American League players and even ahead of teammate Joe Mauer (3.6).
But the Twins have watched Revere, 24, bat .294 and steal 36 bases this season while playing out of position in right field. Span is under contract through 2014, with the club holding an option for 2015.
It's no secret the Twins need pitching. And they have Chris Parmelee, coming off a good year at Class AAA Rochester, showing signs of being able to take over in right field.
So Span knows he could be the chip the club plays to help improve the pitching staff. Washington and Cincinnati are among teams that could use a leadoff hitter.
"Each day that goes by, I realize that I might not be here for much longer," Span said. "So I'm looking at it in a positive way. I know that I'm a good player."
The Twins aren't tipping their hand if they're committed to trading one of their center fielders. Assistant general manager Rob Antony said team officials have liked what Span and Revere have given them in terms of range in the outfield and punch at the top of the batting order.
"With as big of an outfield as we have, you need a couple guys who can really run out there," Antony said. "Both of those guys can play center."
With Mauer batting .321, Josh Willingham hitting 34 homers and Justin Morneau still a threat, Antony suggested that Span has been underrated this season.
"I think Denard has had a very good year," Antony said. "I think Denard has been one of our most consistent players. When he's in there, we're a different team."
And Span wants to be in the lineup as much as possible during the remaining 15 games of the season. He's battling a sprained SC joint -- that connects the breastbone to the collarbone -- and has been told it will heal only with four to six weeks of inactivity. Span said he wants to play, and prefers to wait until the offseason to heal.
"He's done a lot of work to get to this point," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "so we'll see how it goes."
When Span reports to spring training next season, he hopes it's with the Twins.
"It would mean a lot [to stay]," Span said. "I've been here for 10 years and this is the only uniform I've ever put on. I'm comfortable here, everyone knows me. They know my mood swings, my character and all that. This is the place I would love to call home until I retire, but the chances of that happening these days are slim, unless you're born in Minnesota."
Span then chuckled after alluding to Mauer.
"Naw, I'm just joking," he said.