The Washington Nationals will likely place right fielder Jayson Werth on the disabled list before Saturday’s game with what general manager Mike Rizzo called a “very slight” right hamstring strain. Werth’s DL stint would be backdated to May 3, and the team expects he’ll be ready to return when he is eligible on May 18.
“Of the three grades, this would be a Grade one-ish type of strain,” Rizzo said.
“Obviously something’s wrong with his hamstring,” said manager Davey Johnson. “Whether any little running or exercise is going to fatigue it and it might pull, that’s something I’m going to be very cautious with.”
Outfielder Eury Perez and utility manJeff Kobernus are candidates to be called up from Triple-A Syracuse in Werth’s place.
Werth, who initially felt his hamstring cramp up on April 30 in Atlanta just before he fouled a ball off his left ankle, had been hoping to avoid the disabled list but the spasming in his hamstring would not subside.
Then the team was led to believe that a stomach ailment that has plagued the outfielder for about a week may have been at the root of the issue, dehydrating Werth to the point where any exertion would send the muscle into spasm.
After undergoing an MRI and visiting with an internist on Thursday, Werth took batting practice and did a little running in the outfield with a strength and conditioning coach. He was put on antibiotics for the stomach issue and Johnson said he hoped one more day of rest would do the trick.
Werth was going through a normal weight room routine on Friday when his leg went into spasm again and prompted the team to lean more heavily toward putting him on the disabled list so they could stop playing a man down, as they have for the last week.
“The hydration issue is a factor,” Rizzo said. “We think it could be just cramping because of the hydration. So we’re going to get that under control and see where he’s at and just be cautious with it.”
“That’s the $64,000 question,” Johnson said, when asked if they still feel the hamstring issues are as a result of the stomach illness. “I’m still not sure. I don’t think anybody’s sure. As of last night he still had reason to be dehydrated. But we couldn’t get anybody in here by (Friday’s game) so we’ll just see what our doctors think.”
The team believes Werth will be ready and clear of the issues in his stomach as well as his hamstring by the time he would be eligible to return on May 18, when the Nationals are playing a four-game series in San Diego.
The Nationals are considering Perez and Kobernus for the call-up, though Kobernus would need to be put on the team’s 40-man roster in order to join the major league team. The Nationals, however, have a spot open.
Both players are performing well at Triple-A.
Kobernus, who was a Rule 5 selection of the Detroit Tigers this winter and played the outfield for the first time with them in major league spring training, is a speedy player who’s natural position is second base. In 31 games this season, he’s hitting .371 with a .402 on-base percentage and 14 stolen bases. In 2011 and 2012, Kobernus stole 95 bases in Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg combined.
Perez, who was not in the Triple-A lineup as of 6 p.m. on Friday night, is hitting .346 with a .352 on-base percentage in 23 games this season.
Corey Brown would likely have been in consideration as well, but the outfielder has been out with an oblique injury and the Nationals were hoping to add a right-handed batter in Werth’s place. Brown is left-handed.
“We’ll get together with the coaches and managers and scouts that have seen them and we’ll make the decision on who fits us the best and who’s playing the best to win games up here,” Rizzo said.