The Washington Times - August 7, 2012, 07:42PM

HOUSTON — When Jayson Werth returned to the Nationals’ active roster on Aug. 2, all eyes were on his left wrist. The break that had cost him three months was not an issue and Werth’s performance at the plate since returning (he’s 7-for-16) has proven as much.

But from the start Werth felt the rest of his body, particularly his legs, would take a little bit longer to catch up and get back into what they call “baseball shape.” That was precisely the case for him Monday night when Werth, his legs so tight he said Tuesday he “didn’t feel like I could help the team,” pulled himself from the game after the seventh inning.

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“He was really hurting,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Tuesday. “He came out of the game in the seventh inning. When a player comes out then, you know he’s hurting.”

Werth insisted after the game that he’d be fine and he reiterated as much Tuesday afternoon, saying he felt better than he had the night before.

If his name had been in the lineup when he arrived at Minute Maid Park, he’d have been fine to play, he said. But Johnson, who saw Werth get picked off first base on a snap throw from the catcher in the sixth inning, wanted to play it safe.

“His legs just aren’t under him yet,” Johnson said. “When he got picked off at first, I could tell they weren’t getting the signal from the brain to go. I knew I was going to have to be careful with him coming back because when he plays he’s all in. Just let him catch his breath.”

Werth was available to come off the bench if necessary and attributed some of the soreness to playing Saturday night and then with a quick turnaround in a day game on Sunday before traveling to Texas Sunday night. 

From the start, though, the Nationals have been aware that Werth might need an extra day here or there as he continues to get back into the type of shape he usually is at this point in the season. Asked Monday about that, Johnson said he expected Werth to let him know when he needed it — and that’s just what happened.

“When you pull yourself out of a game, you get punished the next day,” Werth said. “I expected to play. I don’t make the lineup.”

– Also sitting Tuesday night was Kurt Suzuki, who has been alternated with Jesus Flores since he was acquired on Saturday morning. Suzuki is expected to assume the role of the Nationals’ primary catcher but, for now, Johnson is easing him in. Suzuki’s been hit with a lot the past few days, especially as he tries to learn an entirely new staff of pitchers.

“He’s getting a crash course on learning the staff,” Johnson said. “In the two games he’s caught I think he’s about seen everybody in the ‘pen each time and they’ve been close games. I’m just letting him catch his breath. I just do what I feel like doing that day. I like the way he’s coming along.”