“It’s a little stiff, probably going to need a day,” Werth said. “It should be fine. Hopefully, I’ll be fine to go tomorrow.”
Werth will continue to receive treatment from Nationals’ athletic trainers during the game and might be available as a pinch-hitter. Whenever he plays next, Werth said, he’ll wear a pad to protect his elbow at the plate. He’s confident, but not certain, he will return to the lineup Saturday.
“I could be wrong,” Werth said. “But usually these linger for 24 hours and then they’re gone. It’s part of it. It makes you think a little bit about how remarkable Cal Ripken’s streak actually was.”
Thursday night, Diamondbacks reliever Aaron Heilman hit Werth with a fastball in the elbow, “a bad spot,” Werth said. The ball nailed Werth’s ulnar nerve, he said, which is “kind of like getting hit in the funny bone really hard.”
(Heilman’s pitch came an inning after Sean Burnett hit Arizona star Justin Upton, but the Nationals do not believe Heilman hit Werth on purpose. Burnett’s hit by pitch brought the tying run to plate, and no signs of conflict had preceded that pitch. So the Diamondbacks would have been hard-pressed to believe Burnett’s pitch to Upton came on purpose, and therefore unlikely to be retaliating.)
Werth remained in the game after the pain settled down, but he woke this morning with swelling, “which doesn’t always calm down so quickly.” The Nationals didn’t know whether Werth would play until he arrived at Chase Field.
“That was my call,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “I didn’t want to put him out there and maybe have him vulnerable to maybe taking another shot like that. He got it in a bad area. It’s very stiff and swollen.”
Werth had only missed two of the Nationals’ first 56 games. Tonight, the Nationals put Laynce Nix in right field, with Roger Bernadina in left and Rick Ankiel and center.