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Just a few days ago, the Nationals finally got healthy and had their full lineup as it was intended on the field. All the players who have missed time this year -- Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Yunel Escobar, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman -- were all where they were supposed to be for the first time all season long. That might not happen again in 2015, though, as Span has now returned to the disabled list, this time for hip inflammation that could keep him out for the season.
The Nats couldn't afford this injury. They are 6.5 games back of the Mets in the NL East, and at nine games back are effectively out of the wild card race barring a miracle. They are just 64-62, barely hanging on to .500, but with Span such a good hitter these past two seasons and a positive defensive presence for Washington, a healthy return would have at least made a late-season run plausible. Instead, Span returned from a back injury that cost him 40 games and the Nationals a few wins along the way only to injure his hip.
Span's impact isn't being exaggerated, by the way. Werth is having one of the worst seasons of any regular in baseball at .199/.279/.296, and if Span were around, manager Matt Williams might have been tempted to bench Werth. Instead, he's played in 54 games, rates at two wins below replacement level, and is far more of a problem than a solution. With the Mets looking as good as they ever have in 2015, and the Pirates and Cubs running away with the Wild Card spots, Span's latest injury just might be the sign that the season is officially lost for the pre-season favorites. They've still got a month of Bryce Harper and that rotation left to prove otherwise, but it's going to be a harder month without Span.
- Ever been to Twins.com? It's not affiliated with MLB's Twins franchise, because they haven't been able to buy it from a set of real-life twins.
- Justin Verlander is back! So, how much would you pay him if he were a free agent right now?
- The title games for the Little League World Series are now set following victories by Texas and Mexico.
- 105 years ago on Thursday, night baseball was an experiment in Chicago during an exhibition.
- The Lotte Giants put together a bat flip supercut because they are the greatest franchise in the history of professional sports.
- Ken Griffey Jr. starred as himself -- well, his 1989 rookie card self -- in the newest Macklemore video.
- The Cubs are actually good this year, which means they're actually fun! Instead of, you know, fun for us to make jokes at the expense of. Don't worry, though, there's still a month left for them to blow this if you're missing those Cubs.
- NESN letting go of Don Orsillo marks the end of an era for the Red Sox and their fans.
- Yordano Ventura struck out a career-high 11 batters en route to a Royals victory -- they were looking great with Ventura pitching poorly, so watch out if he's regained the form that made him so intriguing last summer.
- Carlos Torres must have enjoyed reading Spencer Hall's feature on chinlone in Myanmar, because he skilfully booted this comebacker right at first baseman Daniel Murphy.