Dusty Baker told reporters this weekend that he planned to talk to veteran outfielder Jayson Werth to gauge where the 38-year-old was in his rehab from the bruised and fractured foot which had kept him out of the majors since early June.
“I have to talk to Jayson after talking to you guys," Baker said on Saturday when both Werth and rehabbing shortstop Trea Turner were in Nationals Park, "and I don’t know how close they are, but I’ll talk to them.”
“I don’t want them back struggling,” he added, “I’d like them back kind of near the top of their game. I don’t know if you can expect them to be at the top of their game, but near the top of their game.”
Werth played in six rehab games between the Triple-A Syracuse and High-A Potomac Nationals, going 3 for 13 with a double, four walks, and four Ks.
This afternoon, the Nationals announced that Werth was returning to the majors.
Before his injury, on a foul ball that caught him flush on the foot, the 15-year veteran had a .262/.367/.446 line, five doubles and eight home runs in 47 games and 196 plate appearances in the final year of the 7-year/$126M deal he signed with the Nationals in December of 2010.
A return now should give Werth plenty of time to get up to speed at the plate and in the outfield as the Nationals get ready for the stretch run and a likely return to the postseason.
Baker will have to handle the tough task of getting Werth the at bats he needs while keeping the outfielders who have filled in in his absence sharp, assuming that is, that the skipper won’t move Werth into a bench role now that he’s back... and from what Baker told reporters today he won’t. Werth will apparently play right field for now till Bryce Harper is back.