Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams went into some detail about the Nats' plans for rehabbing outfielders Jayson Werth and Denard Span this afternoon in his pregame press conference with reporters, sharing the schedules and discussing what lies ahead for the expected everyday left and center fielders over the next few days and weeks.
Werth, of course, is still working his way back from offseason surgery on the AC joint in his right shoulder. Span, who underwent surgery for a sports hernia early this winter, was forced to undergo a second procedure for a right core muscle this Spring. Both outfielders took part in a simulated game this afternoon in Nationals Park. So how did it go?
"It went well," Williams said. "We had one yesterday as well. We had a left-hander come in from Potomac yesterday, throw five innings of simulated at bats for them and then today a righty came in and did the same. So they were able to take regular at bats. It's not like playing in a game, but at least we get a chance to get them some live pitches where they don't what's coming so we try to simulate that."
Werth is ahead of Span in terms of their progression, so with the minor league season starting up, he'll head out to Potomac tomorrow to start building towards his return. Span still has a ways to go.
"The plans are... for Jayson, the plan right now is for him to go to Potomac tomorrow and get back into playing some games," Williams explained.
"And Denard will go back to Florida after tomorrow's game and start the next day playing some games. We've got some games set up down there for him.
"He's a little bit longer progression because he hasn't been playing like Jayson has been playing. So he'll start three innings and five innings and seven innings and have a day off in there. We'll get him going too, so good news."
How quickly Span can progress through his rehab will depend on how the 31-year-old center fielder and leadoff man feels as he ramps up the activity.
"We're going to go according to him," Williams said. "It depends on how he feels. Nobody can feel the injury like he feels the injury.
"If he feels good about his swing and he feels good about being able to do what he wants to do on a baseball field, then we don't have any issue with saying, 'Okay, let's go.' But we're going to listen to him and it's important to listen to him because he's the one that feels it every day. So we'll see how it goes, but we're going to start the progression in the next couple of days."
As for a potential date for Werth's return?
"Jayson plans to play at least seven and see where he's at," Williams said. "Depending on how he feels of course. The weather is going to be different than it is in Florida for sure, so we'll monitor that.
"He will play as much as he feels that he needs, but he'd like to play seven, we'd like him to play seven. He's worked up to that so if that all goes well, he'll get seven innings tomorrow and look beyond that the next day."
The Nats' skipper said they need for him to eventually go from seven to nine innings and then go from there.
"We want him to play back-to-back days, he'll be asked to do that when he returns," Williams explained. "And he's done that. He played four in a row, could have played five in a row just prior to us getting here, so he's accomplished that goal.
"The most he's played is seven, so we want to make sure he gets nine innings in and responds the next day, so we'll see how it goes. But he's excited about it, he's excited about getting back out there."
Could he return by Saturday, when he's eligible to come off the DL?
Williams said that wasn't likely.
"With the layoff, it's difficult. Because he played four in a row, took a day off, and now we've simulated a couple of games for him. It's not the same as playing games, so we'll have to see how it pans out for him, but I think Saturday is probably stretching it. So we want to make sure he gets at least nine innings. He won't get that tomorrow. And so that would push him certainly to Friday and then we'll see where he's at after that, but that date, [Saturday] would probably be stretching it a little bit."