Manager Ron Gardenhire said the center fielder simply needed a rest. And taking the day off might be for the best given how much Span has had to deal with this week, balancing a four-game series on the field with a lot of local family and friends off the field.
Jason Repko got the start in center field and batted at the top of the order in Span's place.
"I think Denard has maybe a lot going on with his hometown and everything, he needs a day every once in a while," Gardenhire said. "Repko was swinging really good last night. Just giving him a blow. We've got to do that with him. He's played a lot of baseball this year."
Span leads the team with 436 at-bats and had played in 104 of the team's 108 games before Thursday afternoon -- tied with Michael Cuddyer for the team high.
Gardenhire reassured that it was simply a day off and had nothing to do with some of the "shaky" defense his outfielders played on Wednesday night in Tropicana Field, where Span admittedly had trouble seeing the ball.Gardenhire noted that Span has played great defense all season.
"He's played great. He's done just fine," Gardenhire said. "Last night was a little shaky, but this -- inside a dome, with a different roof, I think one ball was knuckling. The first ball of the game, he said it was knuckling, then no communication on the other one out there in left-center. But he's done fine."
Repko entered the game batting .310 on the year in just 42 at-bats. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI double in Wednesday night's game.