Jayson Werth on injuries and playing time

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In Friday’s paper, we looked at Nate McLouth’s journey from 2008 all-star to Class AAA in 2012 back to the major leagues and eventually to Washington. But also, we looked at how much of a potential impact McLouth may have this season and why he made sense for this team. He may be a pricey fourth outfielder, but he is a more experienced and talented player, and perhaps surer option, than their previous backup outfielders.

Jayson Werth offered some interesting thoughts on McLouth’s potential impact, his own injuries and ideas about playing time this season. The veteran right fielder, one of the team’s leaders, believes he will have an easier time going to the bench this season to rest when needed or to nurse injuries because of the Nationals‘ improved bench. In the past, that wasn’t the case.

“You feel good not playing when you’ve got guys like that,” Werth said. “They give your team a chance to win. Whereas there have been situations where it has not been that way. That’s when you’re, ‘Nah, I’m not taking a day off. I’m our best chance to win today.’ Which I feel like that every day. But when you have guys like that it makes it easier. And I can be ready for the at-bats in the seventh, eighth or ninth, and that’s okay, too.”

Werth, at 34, is the oldest starter on the Nationals roster. He last played 150 games in 2011 at 32. He played in 129 games last season, missing time mostly because of hamstring injuries that stemmed from dehydration related to a stomach bug early in the season. After he returned, he managed to produce one of the finest seasons of his career, posting a .318/.398/.532 line with 25 home runs and 82 RBI. He qualified for baseball’s leader boards, but he still wonders what he could have produced if he had not missed most of May. Each month, he has a personal goal of scoring 15 runs and driving in 15 runs.

Werth said his legs feel good this spring after a winter of working out and training with the goal of lasting an entire season. But even then, he couldn’t prevent a stomach virus from getting him sick and leading to his leg muscle strains.

“I’m just a lot better at that whole thing and knowing where I’m at, managing my body,” he said. “As you get older, you figure out what works for you before and after the game to stay on the field. I really think last year, whatever that stomach bug, that’s when I got injured. You take that out and I don’t injured. You don’t get dehydrated and loss of fluids and electrolytes, and then you’re at risk for a muscle strain and then it happens.”

Werth realizes he may need a day off here or there to pace himself throughout the season, and Manager Matt Williams has said he has a plan to do so. Werth said he is comfortable giving the other outfielders some playing time. He isn’t shooting to play in 162 games — that could be detrimental to him and, as a result, the team. He could open the game on the bench occasionally, and come in as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, for example, and finish the game.

“That doesn’t mean if you don’t start you won’t get in the game,” he said. “What’s best for the team is probably a number close to 157 games played, whether or not you start all those.”

FROM THE POST

Nate McLouth has quite a journey. An all-star in 2008, he found himself released in 2012, and now he’s part of a talented Nationals’ outfield.

FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL

Danny Espinosa takes a relaxed approach, plus other notes

Jayson Werth on the Nationals being ‘aggressive’ baserunners

Tyler Clippard on winning bobblehead contest: ‘I’m excited, man’

Jamey Carroll and a potential spot on the Nationals’ bench

MATT WILLIAMS’S QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

DAYS UNTIL OPENING DAY

24

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.
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James Wagner · March 7