NEW YORK — The Nationals may add an important right-handed outfield bat to their active roster right around the trade deadline and this one won’t cost them anymore than they’re already paying.
The target for Jayson Werth’s return from a broken left wrist has seemed to be the first week in August. As Werth’s healing and his rehab process have progressed, that timetable has come into focus a bit more.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Wednesday morning Werth could be close to rejoining the Nationals’ active roster when the team returns home from their current road trip on Monday.
“I imagine he’s going to be getting close by the time we get back to D.C.,” Johnson said. “And I’d be surprised if he wasn’t there waiting on us.”
Werth has played in three rehab games, beginning his assignment on Saturday after two rounds of on-field batting practice at Nationals Park late last week. He is 1-for-9 on the assignment but the reports on the health of his left wrist have been positive. He’s played right field and as well as center and could likely serve as the designated hitter for Triple-A Syracuse in Wednesday’s game.
“Progress is coming along good,” Johnson said. “I know that one thing he didn’t have was any weakness in his left wrist.”
The Nationals have allowed Werth quite a bit of autonomy over his timetable and his rehab assignment, relying on him to let them know where he feels like he’s at and when he thinks he can return and be the player they’re planning to rely on a great deal.
Werth can stay on rehab until Aug. 9, though it appears at this point he won’t need all of the allotted 20 days.
“He’ll tell me,” Johnson said. “I know he’s got it figured out.”
Johnson is hoping that Werth will be able to serve as a right-handed option for him in center field, something he has lacked since Werth went down with the broken wrist on May 6. Werth started four games in center before the injury and Johnson had used him there predominantly against left-handers to get an all right-handed outfield alignment.
With the additional center field option, Johnson could use the opportunity to again load up his lineup with right-handers and also get rookie Bryce Harper (who has played in every game since his call-up) some rest either by playing him on one of the corners or by giving him a day off altogether.
Werth was hitting .276 with a .372 on-base percentage and .439 slugging percentage before his injury.
– Chad Tracy is also progressing in his rehab though he did not DH as expected on Tuesday night. Nothing to be alarmed about, Johnson said, as Tracy had played four days before that and was experiencing normal soreness that comes with rehabbing his injury, a torn right adductor that required surgery at the end of May.