NEW YORK -- Denard Span knows he’s in for some more heckling tonight when the Twins open a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.
The Twins center fielder got into it with Yankees fans last October as New York was finishing off its sweep in Game 3 of the Division Series. Span gestured toward the crowd, and the Bleacher Creatures repeatedly mocked him, giving him the who-are-you? treatment as they chanted: “Tor-ii Hun-ter! Tor-ii Hun-ter!”
Toronto fans did their best to prepare Span for the heckling capital of the United States. Span seemed to feed off the jeers in center field at Rogers Centre, going 5-for-11 with a home run and two walks -- by far the Twins best offensive performance of the series.
“They’re doing their homework,” Span said of the Blue Jays fans. “They’re out there on their phones and calling my mom’s name out, and my first name [Keiunta], and how I should have signed with Colorado. I give those fans a lot of credit.”
His mother's name is Wanda. Her support for her son has been unwavering despite that whole foul ball incident. Denard actually is his middle name. The Toronto fans were mispronouncing his first name, he said. Keiunta sounds like Chianti, the Italian red wine.
“Don’t tell them that, though,” Span said.
I didn't catch the Colorado reference, at first, but today’s Toronto Sun explains that Span indirectly cost the Blue Jays a chance to draft Canadian-born pitcher Jeff Francis in the first round of the 2002 draft. The Rockies were set to draft Span at No. 9, but couldn't work out a deal with him, so they took Francis. The Blue Jays picked Russ Adams at No. 14, and the Twins grabbed Span at No. 20.
That pick is looking pretty good now.
Note: Check back this afternoon for tonight's starting lineups.