Found January 27, 2012 on Fox Sports North:
MINNEAPOLIS -- The 2011 season was one to forget for the 99-loss Minnesota Twins -- especially for center fielder Denard Span. Span suffered a concussion in early June when he collided at the plate with Kansas City Royals catcher Brayan Pena. Span tried to play again a few days later but was ultimately shut down for two months. During that time, it was clear the injury weighed on Span emotionally as much as it did physically. But after taking time this offseason to get his head right, the 27-year-old sounds optimistic as he prepares for 2012. "It's probably the best I've felt in two years," Span said Friday. "I don't want to jinx myself, or step out too far yet, because I won't know until I get down there in spring training and get to playing baseball every day and get on the field for five or six hours. But I can honestly say it's been a long but good offseason." As the Twins' leadoff batter last season, Span was hitting .300 with a .367 on-base percentage before the injury. When he returned in early August, Span wasn't the same player. He was just 2-for-35 at the plate after his return and was again placed on the disabled list. He returned one more time in September, which he said was a big emotional lift for him. In his five final games, he was 5-for-18 with two triples, two doubles and four runs scored -- including the lone run in the bottom of the ninth in Minnesota's 1-0 season-finale win over the Royals. "It felt good. It made going into the offseason a little easier," Span said of the final week. "Even when I went home, it was still like the bittersweet feeling, feeling like -- I wouldn't say I wasted a year, but it was a tough season for me. It was a tough season all around for us. But coming back and playing that last week, and that last game of the season, going out and getting a big hit and scoring the winning run, it was almost like a storybook feeling for me after the long season." Span has always been open about his Christianity throughout his big-league career. His faith, he said, helped him get through what proved to be a tough year. "I spent most of the year last year asking God, 'Why now?' I felt like I was playing at a great level last year, even though we were struggling. But we were starting to turn it around at that point," Span said. "I feel like the answer I got from Him was, 'Everything happens for a reason.' Whatever the plan He has, it was not meant for me to play (a whole season) last year. "I've taken it in stride, and it's made me stronger I think as an individual, not so much as a baseball player." Span has done several things this offseason to help him recover from his concussion. He underwent therapy for his eyes to improve his focus. He changed up his diet and saw a chiropractor back home in Tampa, Fla. Span said he hasn't had any caffeine in "three or four months," and he also took up yoga this winter to help with flexibility. "Body-wise, with my knees and my arm, this is the best I've felt in a couple years," he said. If Span does indeed return to the field with a clean bill of health this season, he'll be the Twins' every-day center fielder, manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday. Span spent his first full season in the majors in 2009 bouncing between all three outfield positions. But when Carlos Gomez was traded to Milwaukee after the 2009 season, Span assumed the center field role full-time for the Twins in 2010. Span said he's open to playing the corner outfield positions, but it's not likely he'll have to in 2012. "Everybody knows I waited a long time to play center field, and I'm very passionate about it; there's a piece of me out in that area," Span said. "But at the same time, I just want to help us win ballgames. I'm willing to do that. I'm willing to pull myself and my pride aside and help us win." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.

Twins' Gardenhire wants to see fewer doctors

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had never seen a season quite like 2011 in regard to injuries. Heck, he even had an Achilles' injury at one point in the season. As the health of the Minnesota Twins dwindled, so too did the wins. From the first week of the season until the last game of the year, Gardenhire never had a full squad on the field as the Twins finished...

Morneau 'a little more confident' about 2012

MINNEAPOLIS In 2008, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau played in all 162 regular-season games plus a Game 163. He was Minnesota's iron man after having played 157 games in the previous two seasons.Since then, however, Morneau has not finished a season healthy. In 2009, it was a back injury. The 2010 season was cut short after 81 games due to a concussion. And last year, Morneau...

Twins to retire former manager Kelly's number

MINNEAPOLIS Tom Kelly didn't see it coming.The former manager of the Minnesota Twins had just finished presenting the final award at Thursday night's annual Diamond Awards at Target Field. But Kelly was asked to stay on stage as team president Dave St. Peter and CEO Jim Pohlad had a special announcement.No member of the Minnesota Twins will wear Kelly's No. 10 again...

Blackburn, Baker plan to hit ground running

Twins right-handers Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker said during TwinsFest that they're both healthy and on track to be ready to go once pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 18.

Carroll excited, impressed by TwinsFest

Jamey Carroll, who was signed by the Twins early in the offseason to be the club's starting shortstop, said he couldn't help but be impressed by TwinsFest.

Twins amazed and inspired by Jablonski

MINNEAPOLIS Before they took part in Friday's annual TwinsFest at the Metrodome, several Minnesota Twins players made a special visit to a local hospital.First baseman Justin Morneau was joined by teammates Carl Pavano, Drew Butera, Glen Perkins, Matt Capps and Jason Marquis as they visited Jack Jablonski, the Benilde-St. Margaret's sophomore who was paralyzed in a hockey...

Pascual elected to Twins Hall of Fame

Former Twins right-hander Camilo Pascual was elected as the lone inductee into the Twins Hall of Fame this year, club president Dave St. Peter announced Friday.

Twins caravan: Joe Mauer looks like he's back to himself

Mauer wouldn't confirm reports that he's gained 30 pounds, but he said "I’m at my playing weight right now, and I’m actually trying to gain a little bit more before spring [training] hits because it comes off pretty quickly.”

Former All-Star pitcher Pascual, 78, elected to Twins Hall of Fame

Former pitcher Camilo Pascual has been elected to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame, as the 24th member.

Souhan: Perkins remains rooted as a Twin and as a Minnesotan

The Twins' best relief pitcher in 2011 rode out some tough times as a pro, sticking to what he knows best.

Fans get to quiz Mauer, Morneau

The Twins staged a TV "town hall" with team executives, their star players and manager Ron Gardenhire occupying the hot seats.
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.