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Giants’ Denard Span eyes better year after an ice-free offseason

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Life is good when baseball players can do baseball things in the offseason. Life is good for Denard Span, who seems to be approaching the 2017 season like it’s 2014. [...] the Giants’ center fielder and leadoff hitter said the offseason was free of rehab for the first time since the offseason leading into the 2014 season. With the Washington Nationals, he hit .302 with a .355 on-base percentage, a league-leading 184 hits, 94 runs and 31 steals. The 2015 season was a step backward as Span underwent three surgeries and was limited to 61 games. The Giants signed him afterward for hree years and $31 million, and he didn’t exactly play to his standards in his debut season in San Francisco. “It wasn’t easy not playing up to my capabilities at times,” Span said. Not being able to do the things I’ve been able to do throughout my career. The year prior, it seemed every time something bothered me, something surgically needed to be done. Psychologically, it was difficult having three surgeries in a nine- or-10-month span. Coming off hip surgery, I didn’t trust my hip. Fast forward to last year, it took me a while to trust that I was strong and OK. For me not to have that, I felt I was behind the eightball. Span, 33, played 143 games last season and stayed off the disabled list, but his numbers were down across the board from 2014, except home runs — he hit a career-high 11. The offseason was a delight, and not just because he got married in January, to Anne Schleper, a hockey player who won a silver medal with the U.S. women’s team in the 2014 Olympics. Span spent time conditioning for baseball, not rehabbing from surgery. “I feel 10 times better coming into camp than I did last year,” Span said. Regaining his stroke at the end of 2016 was a momentum boost heading into the offseason and 2017. “I feel like I’m up to speed with everybody else at this time of year,” Span said. The spring training numbers aren’t good (.161 in 31 at-bats), but more important is being in a groove for Opening Day on April 2. Span opened Saturday’s game with an infield single and scored on Joe Panik’s double, and he later tripled to drive in a run. “The main thing was getting back to my mind-set before I was hurt and remembering the player I was — and still am,” Span said. John Shea is The San Francisco Chronicle’s national baseball writer. Email: jshea@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @JohnSheaHey Setting the table Denard Span’s year-by-year offensive statistics: Twins Twins Twins Twins Twins Nationals Nationals Nationals Giants

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