MINNEAPOLIS -- Outfielder Denard Span returned to the Twins' lineup on Wednesday night for the first time since Aug. 27, though he played like he hadn't missed a game.
Span went 3-for-5 while starting in center field and leading off in a 10-5 loss to the Royals -- the same day he was activated from the 15-day disabled list. Span was on the DL -- retroactive to Aug. 28 -- with a sprained sternoclavicular joint in his right shoulder.
"He swung the bat -- he was on the ball pretty good," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's hard to do when you haven't had any swings off live pitches in a couple of weeks, and he steps right in there and gets it done. We need him at the top [of the order] and we always know that, and he did a nice job."
Span, who tripled in his first at-bat to lead off the first inning against Royals starter Luke Hochevar, originally sustained the injury while diving for a ball in center field on Aug. 12. He missed nine games, though the club didn't think the injury required a stint on the DL. But the shoulder bothered him too much when he played, forcing him to miss more time.
The injury is one that likely won't fully heal until the offseason.
"That's what they kind of told me," Span said. "It's not going to really heal until I give it a month, month-and-a-half of no activity for it to fully heal. I haven't done that. I've given it some time off. I've done a lot of rehab on it. But it won't feel fully healed until I give it that time."
Span was determined to return this season, though, in order to finish on a positive note. He entered Wednesday's game hitting .286 with a career-high 32 doubles in 108 games.
"I started off strong," he said. "Had a good April, a good May. Just want to finish it the same way. Go home with my head held high knowing that I finished the season off strong."