VIERA, Fla. - If outfielder Jayson Werth and first baseman Adam LaRoche are going to play in Grapefruit League games this weekend, it'll take some amazing recuperative powers and a departure from the conservative approach the Nationals have taken with even minor injuries.
Manager Davey Johnson all but ruled the pair out of Saturday's game at Kissimmee, Fla., and Sunday's home opener, both against the Astros. Werth has been bothered by back spasms but has been participating in workouts at his own pace, while LaRoche has been held out of drills for the past two days with a mild left ankle sprain and left shoulder soreness.
"I'm not really that sure on Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche. ... Probably, for sure, no LaRoche but I do want to get him going whenever he feels like he's not going to be at risk," Johnson said before the Nationals hosted Georgetown on Friday because he didn't get a lot of ABs last year. "From what I saw yesterday, it looked like Jayson Werth was pretty close to go out there and get a couple ABs. I know (from) watching him last spring, he wasn't real eager, kind of wanted to go at his own pace. I'll check with him this year. I've been talking to him, but I really haven't had time to talk to him about a couple ABs on Sunday."
Johnson prefers to post his lineup a day before a game to give players a chance to prepare and know how they're going to be used. The only way LaRoche or Werth are going to get in Sunday's lineup - they're not in Saturday's, which is already up - is to be cleared by head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz, who is usually pretty conservative when it comes to giving injured players the green light to return to action.
The manager said LaRoche, who yesterday said he'd be ready to go Sunday, is out "unless somehow, miraculously (he's) 100 percent. With the shoulder and the ankle, I wouldn't even think about DHing him. ... Talking to Lee, and his conservative approach is (LaRoche) needs a couple more days."