The Washington Post

Jayson Werth to bat leadoff or sixth when he returns

(Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

His decision: Werth will hit either leadoff or sixth, depending on if the Nationals face a right-handed or left-handed starting pitcher. Johnson said Werth has actually pushed to hit first, which he did at times last year.

“I talked to him about leading off,” Johnson said. “ He has all the history. He said, ‘We had our longest winning streak in Philadelphia when I was leading off.’ I said, ‘A 6-foot-6 donkey wants to lead off?’ ”

On defense, Johnson reiterated that Michael Morse will remain in left field and Werth and Bryce Harper will alternate in center field and right field. Last year, Johnson played Werth in center for the final month of the season to prepare for this season, and Werth has been playing center during his rehab.

“Center field takes more out of you,” Johnson said. “They both need rest.”

When Werth rejoins the Nationals, they will have their full team aside from shortstop Ian Desmond. Johnson said the Nationals have placed a rough timetable of five total weeks on Desmond’s return. Desmond last played July 21, which means he could be expected to come back in roughly 25 days.

“We’re in that two-week do-nothing deal,” Johnson said. “He’s feeling great. I saw him when I went to work out today. He was in there jumping rope. But you’re talking about an injury I never had, and I don’t know how long it takes.”

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Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.


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