After starting in center field for 12 of the past 14 games, Jayson Werth will move back to right field tonight, with Rick Ankiel playing center. Manager Davey Johnson made the switch following an odd moment Monday night, when Werth swapped with Ankiel, moving from center to right, in the seventh inning.
Monday night, Werth returned to the dugout after one inning and told Johnson he felt soreness in one of his calves. Johnson asked Werth if he wanted to sit the rest of the night, but Werth suggested he move to right, a position with less physical demands than center field.
“He didn’t want to come out of the game,” Johnson said. “I saw him today and said, ‘You alright?’ He said he was fine. He said tomorrow he’d be fine. I think what he’s insinuating is he wants to go back to center field.”
In September, Werth has become the Nationals’ everyday center fielder, a decision made with 2012 in mind. Werth does not have the outright speed of an elite center fielder, but he has shown an aptitude for getting good jumps, and he has a strong arm for a center fielder.
The Nationals could try to acquire a center fielder this offseason, but Johnson wants to look at all of the Nationals’ current in-house options in case they cannot land the center fielder they’re looking for.
“Here’s one example. This is just hypothetical,” Johnson said. “Say sometime next year in midseason, Bryce [Harper] comes up. Where would you play Werth, [Michael] Morse and [Adam] LaRoche? I don’t project Bryce Harper as a center fielder. So, why not look at other options, and we’ll have a better feel for people in the organization? I know we talked at one time about acquiring a center field guy, a leadoff-type guy. That didn’t pan out. As the manager right now and possibly an adviser after the year, I want to look at those options and have choices.”