The Nationals plan to weather their latest and perhaps most devastating injury without looking outside their organization for help. With Jayson Werth out for roughly 10 to 12 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a broken wrist, General Manager Mike Rizzo will not push to make a trade to replace him.
“With injuries come opportunities,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to give a handful of guys an opportunity to perform out there and see if they can help themselves in their career path and help the ballclub win some games. We feel comfortable with the guys we have in-house. We’re going to give them opportunities to take the job, and for somebody to take the job and run with it.”
Manager Davey Johnson will shift Bryce Harper to right field, and he plans to split time primarily between Roger Bernadina and Xavier Nady in left field. Both Steve Lombardozzi and Chad Tracy have appeared in left field this season, but Johnson views them as bench players for the time being.
Nady is 7 for 59 (.119) with a homer, a double and three walks. Bernadina is 9 for 45 (.200) with five doubles and six walks.
“They’re both quality players,” Johnson said. “Again, I don’t like too many variables in the equation. I have a math degree, and when you start putting three and four variables in, it’s hard to solve the equation. So right now those two guys, I’m looking for them to stand up.”
Bernadina has received chances with the Nationals for the past three seasons. He has shown flashes, but for his career he has batted .239/.304/.361, and his incredible raw athletic ability has not always translated into the field.
“I’ve got to do it more consistently,” Bernadina said. “That’s the key for me to be successful in this league.”
The Nationals are optimistic that Werth is in the best position possible to heal from his distal radius fracture. Rizzo said Richard Berger, the Mayo Clinic surgeon who performed the operation, told him it was “as good a break as you could have for the situation.”
“It should be a good recovery,” Rizzo said. “He should regain full activity and his pre-injury ability level.”
The Nationals do not have to push for a trade, in part, because Michael Morse could return within a month or so. Rizzo said Morse has had no setbacks as he rests a strained right lat muscle. He will visit the doctor in the coming days and will receive an MRI exam to update his status.
Still, the Nationals will need to play roughly three months without not only one of their best players, but one of the most important clubhouse influences.
“That’s a big blow,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “There’s no question about it. He was coming around starting to hit a little bit, starting to feel better. … He’s got a knack for knowing the game and reading pitchers and pickoff moves and little things that a lot of guys don’t think about is stuff that’s going through his head. He’s great on opening up and sharing, especially with the younger guys.”
Said Harper: “Losing him I think is going to hurt us a little bit but I think he has been the biggest help to me toward the game of baseball with coming to the big league level.”