Werth will be placed on the 15-day disabled list today and shortstop Wilmer Difo will be called up from Double-A Harrisburg, according to an industry source.
Werth was hit by a pitch on his left wrist Friday in San Diego, but an MRI on Monday reportedly confirmed that there were no broken bones or ligament damage. However, Werth has had three surgeries on that wrist in his career and it is likely the club wants to be cautious with the injury.
Difo is the highest-rated infielder of the Nationals prospects, and can also play second base and third base. He was ranked as the strongest player at his position pound-for-pound in the system and was quickly promoted this season from high Single-A Potomac to Harrisburg. Difo signed with the Nationals as a non-drafted free agent in June 2010.
The 23-year-old Difo is a switch-hitter from the Dominican Republic who is hitting .308 for the Senators in 14 games, with eight doubles, one triple, three stolen bases and four RBIs. He has had four multi-hit performances in his last 10 games and has a .367 on-base percentage this season.
The move is interesting on several levels. Is this just a chance to see Difo play or just the beginning of what might be blockbuster moves this summer?
The Nationals decide not to replace Werth with an outfielder, even with Matt den Dekker and Tony Gwynn Jr. available at Triple-A. Shortstop Ian Desmond has struggled with strikeouts this season, up to 41 strikeouts in 39 games, including at least one in nine of his last 10 games.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon is making progress in his recovery from an oblique injury, but is probably at last another couple of weeks away from returning. This might be an opportunity to play Difo at the major league level to see what he can do.
Or it may be just an opportunity to add depth in the infield or give the Nats a speedster to use as a pinch-runner. Yunel Escobar, Danny Espinosa and Dan Uggla have done a great job so far this season, even if they sometimes have had to play out of position.
Difo also represents what I believe will be a surge of Dominican talent (Reynaldo Lopez, Pedro Severino, Wander Suero, etc.) that will start to make their way to D.C. as the Nationals reap the benefits of their outstanding Dominican training academy.
Update: The Nationals have issued a press release making the expected moves official. Werth goes to the DL with a left wrist contusion and Difo takes his place on the 25-man roster.