Players I Love: Denard Span and Adam Rosales Make the All-Effort Team

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IMarch 9, 2010

“If my uniform doesn’t get dirty, I haven’t done anything in the baseball game.”

Players who live by this Ricky Henderson quote play the game like nobody else.

Players who live by this quote hustle every play of the game like it’s the only one they’ll ever make.

And that’s why I love players who play the game that way.

Adam Rosales runs the bases after a home run like he’s trying to beat out a single at first base.

And that’s why I love Adam Rosales.

Denard Span plays the game with ultimate confidence, striving to show the world that the best has yet to come.

And that’s why I love Denard Span.

No one is prouder to be the center fielder for the Minnesota Twins than Span. It’s something he’s worked for as he was making the long journey through the Twins minor league system.

Span has become one of many major leaguers who frequents twitter and his bio says just that.

“Centerfielder for the Minnesota Twins.”

That’s the dream, right? Even though center fielder is two words, that is the dream.

Span came up through the system watching Torii Hunter command the Metrodome’s outfield. When Hunter exited, you would presume an opening would be there for Span to slide in. However Minnesota’s glut of outfielders made that difficult at first.

Now with Carlos Gomez in Milwaukee, the dream becomes reality. Of course, the one glaring difference from now and the time when Hunter was playing center for the Twins is the fact that the experience will be outdoors.

Why do I love players like Denard Span? Why wouldn’t I love players like Denard Span?

Span comes off as a humble, yet confident individual. He seems to possess that quiet confidence and determined demeanor that I can identify with. He doesn’t attract attention, but he goes about his business with maximum effort.

At first, he is kind of just there, but when he starts to get comfortable and the rest of the scene starts to take notice, he falls into his comfort zone.

Span has gone from an afterthought in the minors, to the Twins leadoff hitter. He’s a perceived good guy with the media and his expansion into twitter says how comfortable he’s become with being himself.

In 145 games last year, Span hit .311 with a .392 on-base percentage. As a leadoff hitter, he brings a little bit of everything to the table with his ability to get on base, knock in runs and run the bases.

Defensively, he’s as sound as you will find. Last season, Span bounced around in all three outfield positions and committed just five errors. Beyond the stats, however, when you watch Span play the position, he’s constantly coming up with remarkable catches that I like to call “effort plays.”

Effort plays happen when it doesn’t really look like you could normally make the play, yet your maximum effort results in success.

Span’s frequent “Web Gems” on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight are due to his constant effort plays. Is he the fastest or the most gifted fielder? No, but he isn’t bad, and he makes up for everything else with his effort.

Now realizing what kind of player Span is, is it any surprise the Twins chose him to be their guy instead of Gomez? An organization like Minnesota values players like Span. He was destined to get this job, and I doubt anyone is going to take it away from him for a long time.

On the other end of the spectrum of effort is Adam Rosales, the new Oakland A's third baseman that doesn’t really have a job of his own.

Rosales was traded from Cincinnati to Oakland in the off-season. He joins a club that also added Kevin Kouzmanoff to be their starter at third base and has Daric Barton, Jake Fox and Eric Chavez fighting to man first base.

Fox and Chavez are likely to compete for backup third base duties as well.

Even more of an incentive for Rosales to play every play like it’s his last this spring.

Whether it’s his first home run or his third, Rosales plans on running the bases for each one. It’s just the way he is.

First and foremost, who does that?!

There is no need for someone to go into an all-out sprint on the base paths. Prior to Rosales’ quick home run trots, the fastest I’ve ever seen someone round the bases on a home run was my dad in a softball game when he didn’t know the ball cleared the fence.

So why does Rosales do it?

He’s always done it. According to him, not only is it fun, but it’s who he is. And that’s what it comes down to.

It’s who he is. That is a person who gets it.

Running around the bases gives me the impression that this is someone who cares about the game and is going to give his maximum effort every time out.

When he did manage to grab a walk with the Indians, Kelly Shoppach would not walk to first base, but rather break into an accelerated jog. For Shoppach’s standards, he’s running as hard as he can; it only appeared that way because Kelly isn’t very fast.

To me, those sorts of little things display what type of effort someone gives on a daily basis, and what kind of player they are.

Rosales is a flat-out player. You have to love someone who runs the bases after a home run as if he’s trying to beat out a double play. When asked why he does it, he explains that it’s just who he is.

That’s why I love him.


"Players I Love" is a part of a month-long series of articles that are previewing the 2010 MLB season. For the other parts of "Players I Love" and a schedule, click here.


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