WOODBRIDGE, Va. - Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth went 0-for-2 with a walk, a called third strike and a line out to center field on a cold and misty night in his first rehab assignment with high Single-A Potomac. But he said his shoulder felt “good” after playing seven full innings.
Werth is looking to return from right AC joint surgery performed in January and was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to March 27, to start the season.
“This is a long way away from where I want to be,” Werth said after the game as he spoke to reporters with ice wrapped around his shoulder, similar to the treatment you see given to starting pitchers after their outing is complete.
“It went good and we’ll see how many more of these I need. But I just really want to get back with my team, my teammates and back in the big leagues. Because it’s challenging down here. It’s tough, it’s tough to see. Surface is tough. It’s cold, it’s rainy. There’s a lot of things going against you.”
Werth said he needs some real game playing experience to test the shoulder before he can be activated from the DL and return the Nationals.
“Good. And I’ve been good for a while,” Werth said. “At the end of spring, we were trying to do everything we could to make opening day and so we were playing a lot. And in a normal spring training, you kind of slowly ramp up and we were going for the gusto, so to speak. That last day it was just too much.”
“Doctors, trainers, organization and even me, I wasn’t comfortable with going for it on opening day without really being able to test it. I felt like I was close. The only downside was the three days off (between games).”
Manager Matt Williams suggested this week that Werth would play seven innings, then nine innings in back-to-back games.
“I don’t know what the plan is, to be honest,” Werth said. “My plan would be to play here as many days in a row as I can. If everything goes well, I think I’m ready. I need at-bats. That’s the tough part.”
“You are going to have to play nine when you go up there. Big difference between seven and nine. Doesn’t seem like it would be, but it’s quite a bit more, especially early on when you’re not in game shape.”
Werth faced Lynchburg right-hander Dylan Baker, who was clocked at 96 mph and touched 97 mph early on.
“The kid tonight, he had good stuff,” Werth said. “I hadn’t had an at-bat for a few days and here comes 96 mph. So when I go back up, that’s what we’re going to be seeing if not more. Timing’s an issue, but I think that can come pretty quick.”
Would Saturday be too soon to return? Williams said that timetable would be “stretching it.”
“Stretching it?” Werth chuckled. “Well, that’s kind of what I do. We’ll see.”
But Werth said it’s not really how he feels immediately after the game, it’s how he feels the morning after. He woke up in spring training one morning and the shoulder was tight after just playing a game the night before.
“The plan is to play nine (Friday),” Werth said. “The weather is an issue. If it’s really cold, it’s going to be tough to play nine.
“If I can play these three days and mix in a nine (innings) in there somewhere or at least close to it, I think we’re close. The big thing you don’t want to go back too soon and get up there and have a setback and be down for an extended period where we could’ve taken care of this down here.
“I want to be back with my teammates, my team, but I don’t want to go back up and then hurt the team. So it’s tricky.”