Less than three months after breaking his left wrist in a game against Cole Hamels and the Phillies, Jayson Werth is back in the Nationals’ lineup and will start in center field against Hamels and the Phillies.
It all comes full circle.
Manager Davey Johnson announced minutes ago that Werth has been activated off the 60-day disabled list. Reliever Henry Rodriguez will land on the 15-day DL with a lower back injury, clearing space on the 25-man roster for Werth.
Werth, who has missed 75 games since breaking his wrist against the Phillies on May 6, called general manager Mike Rizzo after playing a rehab game for Single-A Potomac last night. Rizzo then called Johnson after midnight last night and passed along some good news.
“He’s ready,” Rizzo said.
That was the word Johnson had been waiting on. The Nats had let Werth steer his rehab these last few weeks, and Johnson wanted to wait until he heard from Werth that he was 100 percent.
“He’s such a gifted athlete, it’ll be great to have him back,” Johnson said.
Tonight will mark the first time all season that the Nats have had Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper in the starting lineup at the same time.
“We’re getting there,” Johnson said. “This is the closest we’ve been in a long time.”
Rodriguez has been getting treatment on his back the last few days, Johnson said. The reliever might have aggravated his back during a lengthy 38-pitch outing against the Phillies on Tuesday, in which he worked 1 1/3 innings.
Johnson said that the actually was planning on optioning rookie Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse when Werth returned, in order to get Moore more playing time. But Rodriguez’s injury changed those plans.
“I was pretty much in favor of (optioning Moore), to be honest with you, because he’s such a great young talent,” Johnson said. “He’ll be in a situation where I really don’t have the playing time for him. With Jayson out, he was going to get left-handers and I’d leave him in there against right-handers and I felt like he could probably get his 200 at-bats, and that wouldn’t set him back. So kind of all along, I was thinking, Tyler, I’d send him down, let him play for a month and then bring him back.
“But with him having a bit of a problem, it’d be good for Henry. Get him squared away. The only misgivings I have is Tyler. I’m going to have to be real creative and get him some playing time. That’s the tough part. He’s just too young and too good a talent.”
Johnson will use Moore mostly in pinch-hitting roles, and will give him some tips on how best to attack that role. He also noted that he’ll ask Moore to go somewhere to play winter ball and get some extra at-bats during the offseason.
Moore and Roger Bernadina also offer Johnson some other outfielder options if he wants to rest Werth from time to time, which he says he’ll do during one of the games of tomorrow’s doubleheader.
“But he’s in pretty dang good shape,” Johnson said. “It’s not like he hasn’t been doing anything for 2 1/2 months. So I’m not really worried about it.”
The Nationals only had 39 players on their 40-man roster prior to Werth’s activation, so they won’t need to make a roster move in order to free up a 40-man spot for the veteran outfielder.
Here’s the Nationals’ lineup, which features Werth’s name for the first time in quite a while:
SS Danny Espinosa
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
CF Jayson Werth
C Sandy Leon
2B Steve Lombardozzi
P Ross Detwiler