DETROIT -- Entering Tuesday's action, the Nationals were hitting .268 since Rick Schu took over the hitting-coach duties. Their best game was Sunday in a 14-1 victory over the Mets. Schu was pleased to see the Nationals score runs without putting the ball into the seats.
"I've been on clubs where it's all or nothing. That's a very tough way to win games," Schu said. "So I think if we can do the little things -- grind at-bats, get hits with runners in scoring position, move some runners … [we] will win some games."
When Schu took over as hitting coach, he designated center fielder Denard Span as a special project. Shu's goal is to return Span to the leadoff spot.
After a slow start, Span was dropped from the leadoff spot to seventh in the order. In his previous two games, however, against the Mets, Span was 5-for-8 with two home runs. Span credits Schu and first-base coach Tony Taracso for getting him into a better position in the batter's box.
"All season, I was real choppy with my swing, and I think the two of them were trying to get me into some rhythm and being more fluid," Span said.
Said Schu about Span: "He is our leadoff-hitter catalyst. I know he is not batting leadoff now. [Bryce] Harper is doing one heck of a job. Denard started as the leadoff guy and he wants to be that guy. He is a competitor. He is one of my favorite guys. I love what he brings. It's about being in good position. He is coming to a new team, he is trying too hard.
"I think he is starting to get his swagger back and trusting it. If he goes, we go, because he is going to be a guy who grinds at-bats, steal some bags, score some runs along with his great defense."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.