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Nationals outfielder Denard Span returns to disabled list, out for season

The reeling Nationals have taken another hit with their center fielder done for the year.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals outfielder Denard Span is headed back to the disabled list with hip inflammation, the team announced last night:

William Ladson, the Nationals beat writer for MLB.com, reports that Span will undergo season-ending hip surgery on Tuesday:

Span played just 61 games for Washington this season, hitting .301/.365/.431 with five home runs and 11 stolen bases in 246 at bats. Despite having played just over a third of the season, Span's five homers match 2014 as the most since he hit eight with the Twins in 2009.

Rookie Michael Taylor has played the lion's share of the games in center field for Washington in Span's absence, but left last night's game against  the Padres with an injury after crashing into the wall in the seventh inning. Taylor has hit .241/.290/.390 with 13 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 109 games this year. Bryce Harper is the only Nationals player aside from Taylor and Span to start a game in center field this season.

In addition to Span and Taylor going down in the last two days, third baseman Yunel Escobar left last night's game with a right hand contusion, though x-rays were negative.

Span's hip issue is among the latest in a string of injuries that has seen the Nationals tumble to 64-62 this season, 6½ games behind the Mets in the NL East race, after winning 96 games in 2014. Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon, both expected to be key contributors for Washington this season, missed significant time earlier in the season.

All of the injuries, along with some underperformance, have led to what many expected to be one of the best teams in baseball to freefall, perhaps even putting the job of general manager Mike Rizzo in jeopardy, fairly or not.