When Michael Cuddyer whipped out his first baseman's mitt after Justin Morneau took a seemingly minor blow to the head last July, he hardly could have guessed he'd be wearing it every day for the rest of the season.
Will it be a similar story this year for Ben Revere?
The 23-year-old prospect, on the roster for a second stint this year due to a rash of injuries, took center field on June 7 with Span complaining of concussion symptoms stemming from an innocuous-looking collision at home plate a few days earlier.
With the exception of one game, in which he played left while Jason Repko manned center, Revere has been Minnesota's center fielder ever since.
In a brief radio interview with KFAN's Paul Allen yesterday, Span -- who had just finished a light workout at Target Field -- sounded despondent. Asked to guess when he might return to the lineup, he stumbled for words before settling on the All-Star break, an answer he sounded none too confident in.
The center fielder can hardly be blamed for his demeanor given the stark similarities between his predicament and the one that faced his teammate a year ago.
Much like Span, Morneau was amidst an outstanding campaign before taking a knock to the head while running the bases hard. Neither injury was initially deemed serious -- Span even played and batted third against the Indians three days after running into Royals catcher Brayan Pena -- but Morneau ended up missing the rest of his season and Span has missed two weeks with no return in sight.
To listen to Span describing his symptoms, you'd almost think he was reading Morneau quotes from last year's newspapers. In his downtime, he experiences no issues, but when he steps up his activity and tries to get on the field and work out, on come the headaches and dizziness.
Players like Cuddyer and Revere deserve a lot of credit for stepping up and helping the team win in spite of these significant losses, but Morneau and Span are both extremely likable players and key cogs in the lineup. It's hard -- for the team, for the fans, and especially for those two competitive spirits.
I'm very hopeful that Span can shake these issues and hit his targeted return date, because he's fun to watch and some advanced statistics had him pegged as one of the league's most valuable players over the first two months of the season.
However, as I assess his situation, I can't help but think of Morneau, who is approaching the one-year anniversary of his concussion and to this point still has not been able to bounce back.