Werth, who had never suffered a hamstring injury in his career, felt the initial cramping Tuesday, and it tightened as the game wore on. He fouled a ball off his left ankle in the eighth inning of that game but already had told Johnson he would need a pinch runner if he reached base.
He missed Wednesday’s game because of the ankle injury, and the X-ray results were negative. Werth tested out his ankle and hamstring before Thursday’s game and told Johnson he felt well enough to play. Werth, however, had to promise Johnson he would report any discomfort. When Freddie Freeman singled to right field in the fourth inning, Werth chased the ball down and reached for it, and he felt his hamstring tighten again.
“He didn’t want to lose me, so I told him I’d be totally honest with him,” Werth said.
Werth said a doctor examined him and told him the hamstring injury was “very mild.” Roger Bernadina replaced him in right field.
The Nationals play a three-game series in Pittsburgh beginning Friday, and Johnson, who is overly cautious with hamstring injuries, likely won’t let Werth play for much of it. The struggling Nationals offense will receive a boost when Ryan Zimmerman is activated from the disabled list from a hamstring strain Friday. Johnson said Werth won’t go on the disabled list.
“He’s a smart enough player to know that it was very close to pulling, and it just got real tight on him,” Johnson said.
Potomac’s Martinson off to strong start
High-Class A Potomac shortstop Jason Martinson, the player who kept No. 11 while Ryan Zimmerman wore No. 33 in his rehab appearance Wednesday in Woodbridge, has been impressive in his bid to reach Class AA.
Martinson won two Carolina League player of the week honors in April. Through Wednesday, he was tied for fourth in the league with five home runs and tied for fifth with 17 RBI while hitting .272 with a .389 on-base percentage and .522 slugging percentage.
“I’ve been seeing the ball well and keeping my approach simple, trying to execute in certain situations,” Martinson said. “I’m just trying to be more consistent.”
A year ago, Martinson had 106 RBI and 104 runs in 135 games between low-Class A Hagerstown and Potomac.
“His numbers stand out to you, but I’m really happy with the improvements he’s made defensively,” P-Nats Manager Brian Daubach said. “... I just think he needs to play more games at the position.”
— James Wagner and Lacy Lusk