Red-hot Jayson Werth tweaks groin, could return Sunday

(Katherine Frey/TWP)

(Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Jayson Werth exited the Nationals’ 3-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday after he tweaked his groin. Werth called his departure “more precautionary than anything” and hopes to play Sunday in the series finale, even though Manager Davey Johnson plans to rest Werth in advance of the Nationals’ meeting with first-place Atlanta.

In the bottom of the fifth, Werth chased a fly ball down the right field line and felt a slight pull in his groin before second baseman Anthony Rendon made the play. Werth grounded to third in the top of the sixth and jogged out of the box. He gingerly trotted off the field, and Roger Bernadina replaced him in the bottom of the inning.

Werth experienced a similar tweak June 23 at Nationals Park on a similar play. He left that game and missed only one game before returning.

“Just tweaked my groin a little bit, not nearly as bad as the last time I did it,” Werth said “I just didn’t want to [hurt it] to the point where it would be a more severe injury.”

Johnson wants Werth to sit out Sunday to ensure he will be healthy for the Nationals’ three-game series against the Braves at Nationals Park, especially because lefty Mike Minor will start Monday’s series opener.

“Definitely no,” Johnson said.

Werth wasn’t so sure.

“I could probably play [Sunday],” Werth said. “If he’s got me sitting, I’ll probably have to go in there and box him for it.”

Joking aside, Werth appreciated Johnson’s cautious approach.

“I understand it,” Werth said. “But we’ll see. It could be one of those things where you wake up tomorrow and you feel fine, or feel good enough. We’ll just have to see. We got big games in the division coming up. These things are tricky. You got to be careful. I’ve had a bunch of these in my career. Sometimes you miss games, sometimes you don’t.”

Keeping Werth on the field is a major priority for the Nationals. In July, he led the National League with seven homers, a 1.072 OPS and 22 RBI. Werth went 5 for 7 in two games at Miller Park before he left.

His teammates have tried to let Werth rub off on them. In the sixth inning, Adam LaRoche grabbed Werth’s bat and smoked a first-pitch fastball over the left-center field fence, breaking a 1-for-28 skid.

There’s more about the bat hijinks in the game story, but one piece of it got left on the cutting-room floor. Werth said he didn’t mind LaRoche taking the bat, but it reminded him of a time from his days with the Phillies when he wasn’t so willing to share.

“There was a time one time in the [2008] World Series when I only two bats,” Werth said. “Shane Victorino used one of them and broke it. I wasn’t real happy at that.”

Why did he only have two bats?

“Long story,” Werth said. “I switched models and weights and stuff. So they got me two for the series quickly. A couple days later, I had more. I only had two for the first couple games. Of course, Victorino is the kind of guy who doesn’t ask. He just goes around using everybody’s bats. And he broke it in the first game. You know, things were a little tight in the World Series. I was a little upset. That was many moons ago. Tonight, I wasn’t as upset.”

That 2008 World Series worked out okay. Werth didn’t break the other bat. He ended up going 8 for 18 with three doubles, a home run, six walks and three steals – really, he probably should have won World Series MVP rather than Cole Hamels. And, of course, he got a ring out of it.

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