Jayson Werth has been nursing a sore left knee, Michael Morse has been struggling all week, and both Laynce Nix and Roger Bernadina have been eager to come back from their respective injuries, so Nationals Manager Davey Johnson gave Werth and Morse the day off on Friday, while letting Nix and Bernadina get back on the field.
“I haven’t given them much respite out there,” Johnson said of Werth and Morse. “Berandino’s been out for about 10 days and Nix been out probably two weeks. They’ve been chomping at the bit here lately. They all wanted to play yesterday or the day before. I didn’t want to take a chance. I wanted my boys out there. But here’s a good chance for them to get out there, and I know they are chomping at the bit.”
Nix has been used sparingly because of a strained right groin and Bernadina has only had one at-bat since Sept. 4 as he dealt with a cut on his left hand. But when Johnson informed Werth that he would give him a rest, he said Werth “didn’t want the night off. He said that he’s going to live with it. Probably only because I’m sitting Morse at the same time. If I was picking on him he’d probably be all over me. But again, I’d say this 100 times and I’ll probably have to say it again: We’ve got 25 guys and you have to use all of them. These guys have been on the shelf a long time and want to get back out there.”
Morse has been in a slump the past five games, going just 2 for 22 over that stretch. He was just 2 for 17 in the Nationals’ sweep of the New York Mets, and was 0 for 5 in the Nats’ last home game against Houston. Morse has been hitting just .189 in the month of September and Johnson was asked if his late-season struggles — after a stellar start — are because of the wear and tear of the long season.
“That can happen,” Johnson said. “He’s a big guy, plays hard. Change their position, that can also happen. I’d like to give him a breather here and there. I remember the one time I did give him the day off he came back and he hit a couple bombs. What I’d like to do more than anything is get some guys who have not been played — it’s more important about the guys that are on the bench.”
Johnson added that he felt Nix and Bernadina were both healthy and ready to get back in action. “Nixy told me that he was feeling good a couple days ago and he was for sure yesterday,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘Well, one of my rules is that when you tell me you’re really ready, when you’ve gone through all the workouts and everything, then I give you another day. He said, all right, I can live with that. I’m true to my word, I’m playing him.”