MILWAUKEE — Chad Tracy is getting close to a return to the Nationals’ active roster, and manager Davey Johnson said Saturday he could have his primary bench bat back as soon as the start of the Nationals’ next homestand on Tuesday.
Jayson Werth (left wrist) and Tracy (right adductor) are in the lineup Saturday night for Triple-A Syracuse with Tracy playing first base and hitting third, Werth playing center field and hitting second. Johnson had said previously that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Werth waiting for the Nationals when they returned home, but now it appears that Tracy is more likely to be ready first.
“I think you’ve got a good chance of Chad Tracy being ready when we get back home,” Johnson said.
As for Werth?
“That’s really up to him,” Johnson said. “I think he knows his body better than anybody and I’m not as concerned with him having to get three hits a ballgame down there. I’m concerned that he feels mentally that he can go out there and not get hurt running around the outfield and having four at-bats. When he feels like hes’ ready for that, we’ll call him up.”
Tracy is 7-for-28 on his minor league rehab assignment, including 3-for-10 during his time with Triple-A Syracuse. He was 2-for-4 on Friday night and Johnson said he played eight innings at third base.
Werth played six innings in right field Friday but was 0-for-3. He’s 1-for-15 on his rehab assignment.
Johnson spoke with Triple-A manager Tony Beasley on Saturday about both players.
“He said Tracy’s looking good,” Johnson said. “(Werth) was a little tender, his hand was a little sore. Tracy’s farther along than Jayson.”
The Nationals have been targeting the first week in August for Werth’s return from a broken wrist suffered May 6, but Werth is basically in control of his own rehab assignment and the Nationals are counting on him to let them know when he feels absolutely ready. It is not unrealistic to think, however, that he will rejoin the team on the next homestand.
The Nationals will have to make two moves on the 25-man roster to clear space for both to return. While optioning Corey Brown back to the minor leagues could be one of the moves, especially with regard to Tracy as Brown’s currently serving as a left-handed bat off the bench, presumably one of the moves will also have to come from the bullpen where the Nationals are currently carrying eight pitchers.
Werth is currently on the 60-day disabled list but the Nationals only have 39 players on their 40-man roster at this time so they will not have to make a move to get him back on the 40-man.