Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth, who suffered a clean break of his left wrist Sunday night, had surgery on Monday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. to repair a displaced left distal radius fracture. The procedure was performed by Dr. Richard Berger, who operated on Werth’s wrist in 2006.
Werth’s rehab will begin immediately, the Nationals said in a statement. He’s expected to begin strengthening exercises at the six-week mark and baseball activities will follow in a progression from there. The best estimate for his time away from the team is 10-12 weeks.
In 2005, Werth was hit with a pitch on the wrist in spring training. The injury, which wasn’t accurately detected until Werth visited with Berger more than a year later at the Mayo Clinic, was one that forced him to contemplate the end of his career. Berger, though, identified and repaired the split tear of the ulnotriquetral ligament and Werth’s career rebounded to the point where the Nationals handed him a seven year contract worth $126 million in December, 2010.
The break last night was a tough blow, for Werth and the Nationals, but it appears he’s avoided damaging the same ligaments that led to his earlier ordeal. He is expected to have plates and screws inserted in the wrist during surgery. The timetable is for his return is not exactly known but the best estimates put him at least 10-12 weeks out.
The Nationals will attempt to fill Werth’s role, at least in the short term, by moving Bryce Harper to right field and going with a mix of Roger Bernadina and Xavier Nady in left. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Sunday he may also mix in Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi at the position. The Nationals are not planning to make an additional roster move at this time, only to activate third baseman Ryan Zimmerman from the disabled list on Tuesday.
Werth is the fourth member of the Nationals’ projected middle-of-the-order to go down with an injury this season. Michael Morse is out until at least June with a right lat tear, Zimmerman missed 13 games with an inflamed right AC joint and Adam LaRoche has been dealing with some right oblique soreness. Zimmerman and LaRoche are expected to rejoin the Nationals’ lineup on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
Regardless, it was tough news for the Nationals’ clubhouse to digest Sunday night, losing another one of their veteran leaders for an extended period. In the Nationals’ first 27 games this season, Werth hit .276 with a .372 on-base percentage and .429 slugging percentage.
“It’s frustrating,” Zimmerman said. “Anytime anyone gets hurt it’s tough, but it’s part of the deal. It’s a long season. We’re going to have to go through adversity and this team has the talent and the capability to do that.
“I think Jayson’s obviously a really good player but the things he does day in and day out that the fans don’t get to see is obviously just as important. It stinks. He’ll be missed, obviously, but hopefully we’ll just do whatever it takes to get him back as quick as we can and we’ll figure out how to win without him.”