“We seemed to be getting a little more healthy, and boom, another one of our main guys goes down,” Johnson said. “We’ve dealt with it before. We’ll deal with it again. That was a tough blow.”
The Nationals, playing without cleanup hitter Michael Morse for at least another month, expect third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche to return from injuries Tuesday in Pittsburgh. In a typical loss, they still could have basked in their renewed health, the hustle and boldness of Harper and the 106,931 fans they drew this weekend, the second most for a Nationals Park series in April or May.
Instead, they contemplated how to replace Werth. Harper, Johnson said, will move from left field to right field. In left, Johnson will rely a combination of Roger Bernadina and Xavier Nady, with Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi possibly receiving some playing time, too.
“It’s going to be tough, but we’re going to have to see what some of these other guys got,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “I think it’s going to be a good opportunity for Bernie to showcase that he’s either a big leaguer or not.
“It’s going to be a test. Teams that go the playoffs overcome things like this. When they get their guys back, they’re even stronger.”
An X-ray late Sunday night revealed Werth’s break. Monday, he will received more tests and consult with Richard Berger, the specialist at the Mayo Clinic who performed a unique surgery on his wrist in 2006.
In the sixth inning, Placido Polanco hit a two-out liner to right field. Werth charged, waited until the ball had almost reached the grass and slid, extending his left arm. As he reached for the ball, his glove stuck in the turf and his wrist bent back.
Immediately, Werth curled up into a ball. He grabbed the ball and tossed it a few feet to second baseman Danny Espinosa, all he could do. He writhed on the ground until a trainer ran to see him. He walked slowly off the field, grimacing and grabbing his wrist until he disappeared down the dugout steps.
After a disappointing first season in Washington, Werth had bounced back in the first month of his second. He entered Sunday with an .807 OPS. Saturday, he drilled a game-breaking, three-run homer against his former team, perhaps his biggest hit as a National. Now, he will have to confront a demon.