ATLANTA - Jayson Werth finds himself in Woodbridge, Va., again tonight, as he’ll suit up for high Single-A Potomac for the third straight night as part of his rehab assignment.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said the plan is for Werth to play a full nine innings tonight, and if everything goes well, Werth would then rest tomorrow and be ready to return to the Nationals on Tuesday when they open a series against the Mets.
Ross Detwiler is not as close to returning to action, however. Detwiler is still nursing a strained oblique/back muscle, and is being moved along very slowly in his rehab.
The left-hander did some light tossing today as part of other baseball activities and said he felt fine. If Detwiler feels any more tightness in his back or side while working out, he’s been told to shut it down. As of now, there’s no timetable set for when Detwiler would be able to return to action.
The Nationals made a roster move at the big league level today, placing Bryce Harper on the DL and recalling Erik Davis. But a roster move within the Nats’ minor league ranks might be one of the more interesting topics to fans, as it involves the Nationals’ top prospect, Anthony Rendon.
Rendon was bumped up from Double-A Harrisburg to Triple-A Syracuse today, and while Rendon played just five games at second base in his time with Harrisburg, he’ll get more time there with the Chiefs, while still getting his share of starts at third.
Benefiting Rendon as he tries to pick up the intricacies of second base will be that he’ll now be able to work with Syracuse manager Tony Beasley, who was a second baseman during his own minor league career.
“I think Beasley can help him a great deal about what’s required of him over there,” Johnson said. “Beasley knows his way around the bag real well and he’ll be able to help him, so if he is playing down there in games, he’s not going to be at risk. And that’s the big thing. Because if you’re not comfortable with your footwork and you get hung up, you could get a leg injury real quick.”
Johnson made the transition from shortstop to second base early in his playing career, and said that it took him about two months to get fully comfortable around the second base bag, and to the point where he didn’t have to peak down to see where he was in relation to the bag when trying to turn double plays.
With Danny Espinosa struggling mightily and playing through a fractured right wrist and a torn left rotator cuff, the Nationals will be monitoring Rendon’s progress closely at second base. He tore up Double-A offensively, posting a .319/.461/.603 slash line with the Senators in 33 games, and if Espinosa continues to go through offensive issues and Steve Lombardozzi isn’t deemed the answer at second base, Rendon could get a shot.
Meanwhile, Davis arrived in Atlanta early this morning after learning late last night that he’d be going to the big leagues for the first time in his career. The 26-year-old right-hander posted a 3.00 ERA with Triple-A Syracuse this season, and with the Nats likely without Craig Stammen and Tyler Clippard tonight following their heavy workloads last night, Davis will provide bullpen help.
“I was thrilled,” Davis said of the call-up. “I mean, this is anybody’s dream that plays baseball. To get it here with a team that really is doing things in baseball, it makes me feel special that they value what I do. I want to contribute any way I can. ... Just to be in the discussion, that makes me very proud because a couple years ago, I’m sure I was very, very low on the Nationals’ thoughts. I’m just glad to be able to be here.”
Davis is a great story of perseverance; he got hit in the head with a line drive in 2007, battled through a torn ligament in his knee in 2011 and made the transition from a starter to a reliever in 2012. A San Francisco-area native, Davis then was told he was getting called up when the Nats were on the West Coast a couple weeks ago, only to then be informed that the organization was going another route.
“Everybody’s got their own story,” Davis said. “Mine’s no more special than anybody else’s, but for me personally, this is just a huge accomplishment. While I am here now, I want to do what I can to stay here. If not in the immediate future, at least to set a nice groundwork to get my opportunity here.”
Asked what has allowed him to have so much success as a reliever, Davis pointed to his health and his repertoire, which includes a changeup that is very tough on left-handed hitters, who batted just .203 off Davis at Syracuse this season.
“Going through the rehab really made me realize how much I was willing to put forward to give this game one last shot,” he said. “I think last year it kind of helped me find that passion again. Coming in relieving, I think the way I pitch, I’m really aggressive toward hitters. I have a really good changeup and I’ll use it a lot. That’s just something that a lot of relievers don’t have.”