- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth will begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Single-A Potomac on Thursday. He is expected to play seven innings as he takes the next step in his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.

“He will play as much as he feels that he needs, but we’d like him to play seven,” manager Matt Williams said Wednesday. “He’s worked up to that, so if that all goes well then he’ll get seven innings tomorrow and we’ll look beyond that the next day.”

Werth and center fielder Denard Span, who is recovering from abdominal surgery, each hit in simulated games at Nationals Park on Tuesday and Wednesday. The rehabilitating outfielders faced a left-hander in the first simulated game and a right-hander in the second.

As Werth heads to Potomac, Span will fly back to the team’s minor-league complex in Viera, Florida, after Thursday’s game against the New York Mets. The center fielder will play in games there, starting with three innings and progressing up to nine before leaving to begin his own minor-league rehab assignment.

“We’re going to go according to him. It depends on how he feels,” Williams said. “Nobody can feel the injury like he feels the injury. So if he feels good about his swing and he feels good about being able to do what he wants to on the baseball field then we don’t have any issue with saying ‘OK, Let’s go.’ But we’re going to listen to him and it’s important to listen to him because he’s the one that feels it every day.”

Both Span and Werth are eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, when the Nationals will play the second game of a three-game series in Philadelphia. However, Williams said it is unlikely either player will return that quickly. Span still has to work through an entire progression of minor-league rehabilitation games, and Werth would need to play nine innings in back-to-back games before rejoining the lineup.

“With the layoff, it’s difficult,” Williams said of Werth. “He played four [minor-league games] in a row and took a day off. Now we’ve simulated a couple of games for him. But it’s not the same as playing games. We’ll have to see how it pans out for him. I think Saturday is probably stretching it.”

Right-handed reliever Casey Janssen (right shoulder tendinitis), reserve outfielder Nate McLouth (right torn labrum) and third baseman Anthony Rendon (sprained left medial collateral ligament) also began the season on the 15-day disabled list. Rendon and McLouth are still several weeks away from returning, while Janssen has yet to begin a throwing program, according to Williams.

“He’s okay. It’s there,” Williams said of Janssen’s tendinitis. “He’s doing his exercises. We thought about starting a throwing program and it was a little tender still, so we backed off that a little bit. But he’s progressing through it. When he’s feeling good about it, then he can start that progression. It’s an everyday thing, depending on how he’s feeling.”

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