But Werth also spent three months away from the sport, which has been an issue. Werth is still working himself into regular-season baseball shape, and he asked to leave Monday night’s game with soreness in his legs. Today, Manager Davey Johnson kept him out of the lineup to give Werth more rest as continues a sort of personal spring training.
“Last night, I was tight and fatigued,” Werth said. “I didn’t feel like I was going to help the team. … I felt like I could hit, and that’s about it.”
Werth felt the culprit for his physical malaise was playing Sunday afternoon following a night game. After only playing nine full innings once on his minor league rehab assignment, Werth played an entire game four straight days. He tried for a fifth Monday, then felt weak around the sixth inning.
“I could play today,” Werth said. “I probably felt better today than I did yesterday.”
Werth stayed in good condition during his three-month layoff, but the daily wear of the baseball season requires a specific regimen. It is difficult to replicate standing in one place for hours, interspersed with both sitting and quick movements.
“You can’t do anything to get in shape for baseball other than play baseball,” Werth said. “That’s why spring training is six weeks long.”
Johnson sensed Werth was not feeling well when Astros catcher Carlos Corporan picked him off at first base during the sixth inning. “He was really hurting,” Johnson said. “His legs just aren’t under him yet. I could tell they weren’t getting the signal to the brain to go. I knew I was going to have to be careful with him.”
Werth figured he would be in the lineup tonight, but Johnson wanted to make sure Werth gets rest.
“When you pull yourself out of a game, you get punished the next day,” Werth said. “I expected to play. I don’t make the lineup.”
Also in tonight’s lineup, Jesus Flores is starting in place of Kurt Suzuki. Flores has alternated with Suzuki since the Nationals traded for Suzuki. The Nationals plan to make Suzuki their starting catcher, but Johnson wants to break in Suzuki as he gains comfort in Washington.
“He’s getting a crash course on learning the staff,” Johnson said. “The two days he’s caught, I think he’s seen everybody in the ‘pen. They’ve been tough games. I’m just letting him catch his breath. I’ll just do what I feel like doing each day.”
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