Jayson Werth was in the lineup at first last night, then scratched about an hour before the scheduled start time in Turner Field. The game didn't start until 3 hours and 40 minutes later at 10:50 PM in Atlanta. Werth did, however, appear as a pinch hitter late in Saturday night's rain-delayed, extra-inning affair with the Braves, walking in the top of the eleventh inning. Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters Washington's 4-1 win that he expected the 35-year-old outfielder to be back in the lineup for the series finale tonight.
"He's still a little sore," Williams said early this morning. "We decided to get him out of there today. I think he'll be okay for tomorrow. Certainly the pinch hit appearance tonight dictates that he'll be okay tomorrow. But needed a little bit of extra work and so he took the game to do that and should be good tomorrow."
Steven Souza, Jr., whose shoulder was sore after a run-in with Turner Field's fenced out-of-town scoreboard/right field wall on Friday night, ran for Werth when the veteran outfielder reached base in the eleventh.
Williams said Souza too was sore, but, "Good enough to pinch run."
"Jayson's in a situation today where we can use him to take a swing," the first-year skipper explained, "but we don't want to push him too hard. So we decided to get Souza in there to run for him. And just in case a ball got in the gap or anything."
Just to add to the injury concerns, there was a brief scare with logo-smudging 21-year-old slugger Bryce Harper, who appeared to feel something in his surgically repaired left hand/wrist on a check-swing foul ball last night. Williams said it's something Harper is going to have to get used to after he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb earlier this season.
"It's going to be like that for a while," Williams said. "Because any time he gets jammed, it can really affect that area. But he stayed in there got a base hit that at bat and a big walk for us to set up that inning, that last inning for us. He played well."
Harper was 2 for 4 on the night vs the Braves, but the base-loading walk he took from left-handed reliever James Russell with one down in the top of the eleventh might have been his most impressive plate appearance.
Williams said he wasn't worried about any further damage to Harper's top hand.
"Not physical damage," he said. "It can swell a little bit. And then it's pretty painful if it's on that ligament and the bat hits that ligament hard. It's painful and it takes him a while to get over it, but it subsides after a while."
Harper may hear more boos than usual from Atlanta fans in the series finale, thanks to some tv and social-media- generated outrage over the Nationals' 2010 no.1 overall pick "desecrating" the Braves' "A" logo behind home plate in Turner Field.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer David O'Brien wrote that Harper, "...dragged his foot across the Braves emblem in the dirt behind home plate - in a clearly intentional move - in each of his first three trips to the batter’s box in Saturday night’s game against the Braves."
Only the first one was captured on the broadcast of last night's matchup. Here's the action by Harper that's causing a stir on the internet: