VIERA, Fla. — Left fielder Jayson Werth took a full session of batting practice Saturday for the first time since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, but Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams said he likely will not be ready to play by Opening Day.
“Again, I would put nothing past him,” Williams said Sunday. “But he’d have to really get into games and feel good about it. I think that’s a stretch, probably. But he’s making good progress, which is good.”
Williams said Werth was a bit sore Sunday morning after taking batting practice, but it was “normal soreness, spring soreness.”
The 35-year-old had progressed from taking swings on a tee to swinging in the batting cages with a lighter version of his bat. He will take at least one more round of batting practice before taking live at-bats in a minor-league game.
Werth has been playing in the outfield at the team’s minor-league complex and running the bases. Once he is cleared to face live pitching, and feels comfortable at the plate, he should be able to return to the everyday lineup.
Werth is one of four 2014 regulars in the midst of a rehabilitation process, a group that also includes reserve outfielder Nate McLouth, third baseman Anthony Rendon and center fielder Denard Span. Of the four, Werth is likely closest to returning, but even he might simply run out of time.
Span took swings with a fungo bat and ran in the outfield Saturday, according to Williams. He is also throwing from more than 120 feet. Yet he, too, faces several steps before being cleared to play following two abdominal surgeries in a span of four months.
“He’s on his way,” Williams said.
Rendon is still feeling a soreness in his left knee after he sprained the medial collateral ligament on March 9. He has not been cleared to participate in baseball activities.
“We’re just continuing the protocol on him and seeing where he’s at,” Williams said. “He’s running. He’s doing stair work, walking up and down stairs. He’s doing strengthening exercises. He’s doing everything he can do otherwise to make sure that when it’s good to go, he’s in shape to start doing all the things again.”
While the rash of injuries is not ideal, general manager Mike Rizzo said he is satisfied with Washington’s depth and does not feel obligated to make any moves.
“I think that things could be worse,” Rizzo said. “Like I’ve always said, one man’s injury is another man’s opportunity. We expect all those guys back in pretty quick order, so we’re not too down about it. It’d be nice to have your full complement of guys on the first day of the season, but to get them soon thereafter will be fine.”