Right fielder Jayson Werth departed the Nationals clubhouse at Citi Field this afternoon to have his sore right shoulder checked out by a physician. The Nationals are trying to schedule an MRI to determine the severity of the inflammation in the AC joint and to make sure there's nothing further wrong with the shoulder.
"We're just going to get him checked by the doc," manager Matt Williams told reporters during his pregame briefing. "He was OK the other day, playing that last game in Atlanta, but he slid in that game and irritated that AC joint in his shoulder. With the off-day yesterday, (he) didn't really feel any better, so we're going to get him checked out. ... He's just not reacting well, so we have to try to treat him again and get him going again. He's a little sore today."
Williams said he expected Werth to be available off the bench as a pinch-hitter tonight in the opener of a three-game series against the Mets. The manager didn't sound worried that Werth had done any long-term damage to his shoulder or that a stint on the disabled list would be required.
"I'm not that concerned," William said. "Anybody that's played certainly infield has dove for a ball and sprained that joint a little bit. It's painful, but eventually it goes away. The question is, what can we do to ensure that? I don't think it's a DL-type situation. I think his improvement was good from day one in Atlanta to day three in Atlanta. The problem is, there's a lot of things that can happen on a baseball field to irritate that joint - there's diving back into first or sliding or running into a wall or anything like that can hurt it again. I don't think there's any major issue, I just think it's inflamed and sore."
Werth's shoulder problem is not similar to the AC joint injury sustained by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman two seasons ago, WIlliams said. Zimmerman got a series of cortisone injections in his shoulder and finished the season with 25 homers and 95 RBIs despite managing the problem for a majority of the season. Zimmerman had arthroscopic surgery to clean out an arthritic section of bone in October 2012 once the Nationals had been eliminated from the postseason.
"It hurts (Werth) if he has a funky swing or he jams it," Williams said. "I think the inflammation is there because he's had a traumatic incident, whatever it is - whether it's a dive or an off-balance swing. I don't anticipate there will be any major structural issues there. Again, a picture when we can get it will tell us a lot more."
Williams said injured rookie outfielder Steven Souza Jr., who is on the 15-day DL with a left shoulder contusion, is also dealing with issues in the AC joint. But an MRI taken of Souza's left shoulder showed no structural damage, and the Nationals are preparing a plan to get him back into baseball activities as soon as possible.
Zimmerman's rehabilitation from a Grade 3 strain of the right hamstring is continuing with the strengthening phase, Williams said. Zimmerman is walking on an anti-gravity treadmill and will soon graduate to a weight training program, the manager said.
Update: After the Nats' 7-1 win over the Mets, Williams said Werth underwent an MRI and that the club expects to have results later tonight or Wednesday morning.