Jayson Werth makes rehab debut with Potomac Nationals

Outfielder played 6 innings, went 1-for-3

Ten weeks and five days ago, Jayson Werth broke his left wrist attempting to make a diving catch against the Philadelphia Phillies.

On Saturday night in front of over 5,000 fans, he began his rehab assignment with the Potomac Nationals at Pfitzner Stadium.

Werth batted third in the lineup and started in right field. He played six innings, going 1-for-3 with an RBI and added a run by scoring from first on a double.

“I feel pretty good,” said Werth, who got injured on May 6. “As long as [my wrist] doesn’t hurt, I’m not going to hurt myself.”

The right fielder, who wasn’t tested defensively, is happy about how he feels physically at this point, but still believes he’s a ways away from getting into game condition.

“My body feels pretty good,” said Werth. “I feel like my body is ahead of where I thought it would be, so that’s good. Getting back into shape, playing every day and playing nine innings, that’s going to take some time.”

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo spoke Thursday of Werth setting his own timetable for when he’ll return to the big leagues. The rehab assignment can last 20 days, and Rizzo wants to make sure Werth is productive when he is back with Washington. He was hitting .276, with three home runs and 12 RBI in 27 games when he got injured.

“We’re going to be cautious with him because we’re going to need him in the stretch drive,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to make sure he’s healthy. We’re going to give him ample plate appearances so he can see ample pitches and when he comes up here he can hit the ground running.”

Werth says he isn’t afraid to go out and play, nor is he worried about reinjuring his left wrist. But he did admit the challenge of a situation presenting itself similar to the one he got injured on.

“It was a freak thing, I’ve made that play hundreds of times,” said Werth. “If I got into that situation again, I could be vulnerable to that type of injury. You can’t worry about those things, but it’s an issue.”

A fractured wrist normally takes about three months to heal, but Werth is back after 10 1/2 weeks. He understands it’s a risky move.

“I think we’re pressing the envelope a little bit with starting rehab this soon,” said Werth.  “I’m relatively pain-free. It’s still a little stiff and still needs some more strength, but overall I feel like it’s in a good place and it’s a good place to start rehab here.”

His presence on the High-A club made a difference in the clubhouse and on the field and other players noticed it. Potomac pitcher Nathan Karns enjoys having Werth and any other big leaguers play with him.

“[There’s] definitely [a team boost]. Whenever you see a big leaguer here, it’s always fun to play with,” said Karns. “Guys pick their brain and they’re very open with us and it’s just really comfortable knowing that guys are like that.”

P-Nats manager Brian Rupp thought Werth made quite an impact on the team.

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