Werth participates at his own pace, may be held out of weekend games

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals manager Davey Johnson expected outfielder Jayson Werth to miss a second straight day of workouts because of back spasms. Turns out Werth felt well enough to take part at his own pace, though Johnson’s not sure he’ll have Werth available when Grapefruit League play begins this weekend.

Werth wasn’t present at the beginning of workouts while he received treatment on his lower back. Whatever the team’s trainers did worked well enough to allow Werth to hit on his own in the cage, play catch with teammate Ian Desmond in the outfield and then shag fly balls in front of the batter’s eye in center field and run. On one deeply hit ball, Werth retreated to the wall and bent over, trying to play a carom as the ball skipped off his glove.

The good news: Werth seemed to be moving without any problem. The bad news: Johnson’s not convinced Werth will be able to play Saturday, when the Nationals travel to Kissimmee, Fla., to take on the Astros in their first Grapefruit League game, or Sunday, when the teams meet again in Viera.

“I was going to give him a couple of at-bats in the home game here,” Johnson said. “I might have to postpone that, upon further review and discussions with him.”

Johnson prefers to give players who are hurt, especially veterans, the leeway to work at their own pace to overcome their injuries.

Werth wasn’t the only National missing because of injury Wednesday.

Johnson said first baseman Adam LaRoche “tweaked” an ankle in base running drills Tuesday and did not participate in workouts. Infielder Chad Tracy was also out of action after receiving a cortisone injection in his knee. Because LaRoche and Tracy were both sidelined, Mark DeRosa was the only first baseman who could take reps in drills, so hitting coach Rick Eckstein donned a first baseman’s mitt and helped out at that position,

“I just banged them all, told the trainer to do their treatment and I wanted them to come out for infield and they’re done. ... Mostly, I do that just to nip things in the bud,” Johnson said.

Right-hander Yunesky Maya missed a second straight day while recovering from a flu-like illness. Maya’s absence, however, will probably not mean he won’t be in line to make his first appearance of the spring. Maya is tentatively scheduled to follow lefty Gio Gonzalez to the mound March 6, when the Nationals travel to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to play the Braves.

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