Werth, who has been out of the lineup since Aug. 10 with an AC joint sprain, could be available off the bench as early as tonight, depending on how his workout goes this afternoon at Nats Park.
“He’s going to do kind of a full load of activity today, so should take some BP, may not be on the field, probably in the cage,” manager Matt Williams said to reporters in D.C. “He’s thrown, he’s run, he’s done all the other things. Today’s important for him to take some swings and see how he feels. The joint’s feeling much better, better every day.”
On Friday, Werth hit off a tee and experienced no setbacks. Williams predicts that Werth’s injury is in the past, as he doesn’t expect it to be a lingering issue.
“If he feels good today swinging, then of course, yeah, he’s available off the bench tonight and we’d certainly look to tomorrow,” Williams said. “It’s good for him, it’s good that we don’t have a 1 o’clock game tomorrow. It’s a 5 o’clock game, so it gives him even a little more rest to get ready to play tomorrow potentially.”
Along with Werth, rookie Michael A. Taylor will also be starting his night on the bench.
“The reasoning right now is Mike right now is a little bit in between,” Williams said. “Over the last couple of games, he’s a little bit in between in his approach at the plate. It’s natural for a young player who is seeing guys for the first time.”
Taylor is 2-for-14 with a home run in four games with the Nats.
The Nationals will send Gio Gonzalez to the mound tonight. Although he has been struggling lately, he’ll face a team he’s had success against in his career as the Nats go for the series win over the Pirates.
What’s the key for Gonzalez to get back on the track?
“I think it’s landing curveball early in the strike zone. That’s important for him. You’ve seen when he’s done well, he’s been able to throw fastballs on the plate, land the curveball and use his changeup and that’s important for him,” Williams said. “So, for me, it’s feel the curveball early, being able to throw it for strikes, fastball on the plate and that he doesn’t necessarily get behind in counts. And then, everything works much better for him. That’s no difference than anybody else, though. ... But especially important for him.
“The games that he’s had really good games, it’s been a lot of early curveballs for strikes and changeups when he needed them, and then, you know, surprise fastballs as well. So that’s kind of the formula for his success.”
When watching Gonzalez on the mound, it’s obvious that he’s an emotional pitcher, often talking to himself. Does Williams consider that a positive or negative trait?
“That’s who he is,” Williams said. “It’s not changeable because he’s emotional when he pitches and that’s OK. The key for him though is to be able to zone in and throw the ball where he wants to throw it. You can talk to yourself all you want, but if you’re throwing strikes, it’s a good thing. It’s just his personality, and we can’t change it. It’s just him.”