FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Denard Span has been assured by medical advisers that his concussion problems are behind him. He is ready to put the diagnosis to the test.
Span showed up at Hammond Stadium a couple of days early and said he is eager to get back out there with the rest of the Minnesota Twins after concussion and migraine problems limited him to 70 games in 2011.
“I’ve been feeling good,” Span said Tuesday. “A lot of it is me being happy to be here, turning the page from last year and seeing everyone’s faces. Turn the page this offseason.”
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One of the team’s most reliable players both in the field and at the plate, Span certainly wasn’t himself last season. He hit .264 with two home runs and 16 RBIs. He gave up caffeine and altered his diet in hopes of limiting the onset of migraines, and he was told by his chiropractor that he shouldn’t expect to experience any more symptoms from his concussion.
“I think I’m over that concussion,” he said. “Now it’s about body functioning.'”
Manager Ron Gardenhire already has penciled Span in as his starting center fielder, even though rookie Ben Revere made several highlight-reel catches while Span was injured last season. Revere will be in left field and newcomer Josh Willingham will play right field regularly for the first time in his career.
Gardenhire took it as a good sign that Span showed up and started working out early at spring training, before the position players were due to report on Thursday.
“He doesn’t have to be here,” he said. “He doesn’t have to report. It’s good to see him out there running around.”
Span wants to push himself early in camp to give himself the confidence to know that he can get through an entire day without any problems. There have been days in the offseason when he felt woozy or foggy, but nothing that he thinks will hamper him once the full team begins working out on Friday.
“The trainers came to me and asked me what I was going to do,” Span said. “I said I’m going to go until I tell you I can’t go or when I feel a certain way.”
The team is prepared for Span to go through some ups and downs, just like first baseman Justin Morneau has experienced the last two years while recovering from multiple concussions.
Still, he’s being cautiously optimistic. Head injuries are a tricky thing to work through, and can return in a moment’s notice.
“Everyone has good days and bad days and it is just about getting through them,” Span said. “I think Justin will tell you if you have a concussion you kind of think too much. You wake up in the morning. On a bad day, you’re like, `Am I just not feeling well today or is it concussion symptoms?’
“I’ve got to push away from that and get on the field and just fight through it.”