MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Denard Span has returned to the Minnesota Twins’ lineup for the first time in more than five weeks.

The center fielder came off the disabled list and was put in the leadoff spot for Wednesday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners, his first action since Aug. 13 and just his 66th game of the season because of a concussion that spawned a problem with dizziness and sluggishness that the team described as migraine symptoms.

Span first hurt his head in a collision at home plate on June 3 and was placed on the DL six days later. He didn’t play again until Aug. 2 and had just two hits in 35 at-bats until landing on the disabled list for a second time. Span had trouble two years ago with an inner-ear condition called vestibular neuritis, and the concussion stirred up that “spaced-out-type” feeling again.

When he would push himself physically, it took him longer to recover. He was often withdrawn and in a grouchy mood.

But in the last week, Span finally felt better.

“Just being social, laughing, cracking jokes and just being myself with everybody,” Span said before the game.

So he told manager Ron Gardenhire he was ready to play again. The plan was for him to play three to five innings and evaluate him afterward.

“We’re not going to go out there and beat him up,” Gardenhire said, adding: “We just want to make sure he’s OK and give him some at-bats.”

Span acknowledged he was nervous about playing again.

“A lot of different emotions. A little bit scary. But I’m just excited to be taking a step forward instead of just being stagnant,” he said. “Once I get out there, it’ll probably be fine, like riding a bike.”

After hearing his name tossed around in trade rumors this summer and dealing with these frustrating, debilitating conditions, this has been a trying season for the 27-year-old Span, just as it has for the Twins.

“I’m not trying to go out there and put up any numbers the next few days. I’m not trying to do that,” Span said. “I just want to go out there and feel good.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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