Jayson Werth plays for the first time in a week after resting shoulder

Jayson Werth. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Jayson Werth swung in the indoor batting cages during Sunday’s game. For a week, his balky right shoulder — technically, an acromioclavicular (AC) joint sprain — prevented him from swinging. He did on Saturday and again the next day. Once the Nationals took a two-run lead in the seventh inning, Manager Matt Williams wasn’t going to insert Werth into the game and told him so.

But when the Nationals fell behind by a run in the ninth, Werth went back down into the batting cages and tested his shoulder. He felt like he could make a difference and told Williams. Appearing in a game for the first time since Aug. 10, Werth pinch-hit in the ninth, drew a key walk and scored the game-tying run. In the 11th, he doubled and scored the winning run. His timing was still good.

“I haven’t swung a bat for like a week,” he said. “Not a whole lot you can do there. But you play this long, you play this deep into the season, you don’t really — it’s like when you come back from the all-star break, it’s not like you missed a whole lot. So I felt pretty good still.”

Werth hurt his shoulder making a catch at the right field wall earlier this month and played with the discomfort. He aggravated it last week, and the discomfort forced him to get a cortisone shot. With the team playing well and the Nationals enjoying a six-game division lead, the team has been cautious with Werth, and he has been with himself.

“It feels better every day,” Werth said. “It’s just one of those things where it’s an injury I’ve never had before so I don’t really know what I’m dealing with. Been talking to a lot of people, trainers and doctors, and just trying to gauge exactly where we’re at. There’s a lot at stake here this season, and I want to be a part of it. I don’t want to come back before I’m ready but, at the same time, I felt like we’d progressed enough and felt good enough to get in there [Sunday].”

On the double off the left field wall to lead off the 11th, Werth hit the ball hard, perhaps an indication his shoulder felt good. He said after the game it felt fine. He did note something interesting: He made an adjustment to shorten his swing, which would help alleviate any impact on his right shoulder. He made a similar change when he returned from a broken wrist in 2012. He even reused some of those old drills. “I think it really helped,” he said.

“[I did it] just to take pressure off the shoulder, the AC joint,” he added. “I’ve never had this before so I’m kind of just tinkering around, trying to figure out something that’s going to work. But I think we’re close. I’ve been getting every indication that chances are I’m not going to injure it, unless I do something stupid out there. I felt it was worth the risk [Sunday]. In a game like that, I wanted to keep the streak going and win a game. So I went for it.”

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