Jayson Werth was honored by Major League Baseball Monday afternoon as the National League Player of the Month for July. At about the exact same time, Werth was heading off the field at Nationals Park with a team trainer, scratched from the lineup with a sore groin.
Werth, who tweaked the groin in Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, played Sunday but did not appear to be moving at his full strength. He was originally in the Nationals’ lineup, hitting cleanup against the Atlanta Braves, for Monday night.
But after doing some stretching and a bit of running, Werth told manager Davey Johnson that his groin felt worse Monday than it did on Sunday, when he’d talked his way back into the lineup.
Johnson had planned to sit Werth in Sunday’s finale against the Brewers, wanting to ensure he’d have his best hitter for the start of a pivotal series against the Braves. But Werth arrived at Miller Park on Sunday feeling well enough to play, and convinced his manager of the same.
He wasn’t running that great (Sunday),” Johnson said. “He ran pretty good after some balls in the outfield. I think he was just being on the safe with it. But definitely, if he can go, I need him in there.”
Werth also took pitches off the ribs and right hand in Sunday’s game, but Johnson said it was the groin that was keeping him from Monday’s starting lineup. He did expect Werth to be available to pinch hit, and was hopeful he could return to the lineup on Tuesday.
Wilson Ramos jumped up to the cleanup spot in Werth’s absence while Steve Lombardozzi moved into left field and Scott Hairston moved from left field to right.
Regardless, losing Werth from the lineup is a killer blow for the Nationals after he posted the best on-base plus slugging percentage of any player in the National League last month.
Werth hit .367 in July with two doubles, seven home runs, 22 RBI, 17 runs scored, 15 walks and two stolen bases to earn his first Player of the Month honors.
He led the NL in OPS (1.072), OBP (.450) and RBI in July, while also ranking in the top five in homers (tied 2nd), batting average (second) and slugging percentage (fifth, .622).
Werth, who is hitting .328 in 50 games since coming off the disabled list from a hamstring strain, is the first Nationals position player to earn the award since the team arrived in D.C. in 2005.