"What is this day 11 of my rehab?" Jayson Werth asked after going 2 for 3 with a double and a walk in his ninth game in the Washington Nationals' system. The 33-year-old outfielder who is working his was back from a broken wrist suffered in a May 6th game against the Philadelphia Phillies, told reporters last night he felt he was ready to return to the major leagues after nine games and 35 plate appearances between Class-A Potomac and Triple-A Syracuse over which he's gone 8 for 27 (.296/.457/.407) with three doubles, eight walks and six K's. "There's really not a whole lot more to accomplish as far as a rehab goes," Werth said, "My hand's good and I think that's obviously the most important thing. Being in playing shape is one of those things where, you know, it takes time and it's pretty much up to the team whether or not I'm ready or not."
"I'm healthy. I feel good. And that's the main thing," Werth said. In 27 games and 113 plate appearances for the Nationals before the injury, Werth was doing a good job of bouncing back from a .232/.330/.389, 26 double, 20 HR, +2.5 fWAR 2011 season in D.C., posting a .276/.372/.439 line to start the the year and hitting five doubles and three home runs through the first week of May. Nats' skipper Davey Johnson's looking forward to Werth's return.
In an appearance on MLB Network Radio's Ripken Baseball last week, the Nats' 69-year-old skipper told the Ripken brothers Werth was just about a week away from returning. "He's way ahead of schedule," the Nats' manager explained, "I didn't have him coming back until the middle of August. He's had about three games down in Triple A and his timing's off, but otherwise he feels great. He's playing the field. He's probably going to be back within a week."
'We're going to get Werth back any day now," Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told the ESPN980's The Sports Fix's Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan this morning, "and we're kind of looking at that as our trade deadline deal."
Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters yesterday, including the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, that he'd spoken to Werth about leading off when he's back with the Nats. "'He has all the history,'" Johnson said during Wednesday's pre-game press conference, "'He said, ‘We had our longest winning streak in Philadelphia when I was leading off.’ I said, ‘A 6-foot-6 donkey wants to lead off?’" Werth spent the majority of his at bats in the five-hole in the first month-plus of the 2012 campaign, putting up a .281/.370/.453 line batting fifth over 17 games and 72 plate appearances.
Whether he's leading off or hitting fifth, playing center or right, Werth's return will provide the first-place Nats with a middle-or-top of the order bat and veteran presence as they head into the stretch run looking for their first playoff appearance since arriving in D.C. in 2005. Werth's returning to a team that was in first place when he was injured and has spent just seven days out of top spot in the NL East as he's recovered and worked his way back. For a player who spent four-straight years in the post season before leaving the Phillies, the prospect of returning to action and the stretch run has to have him itching to back on the field in the nation's capital. The Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper outfield is just days away...
• Listen to Rizzo on ESPN980's The Sports Fix with Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan: