(J Pat Carter/AP)


The initial evaluation of the MRI on Jayson Werth’s balky right hamstring were “pretty negative,” Manager Davey Johnson said before Thursday’s game, an encouraging sign that the lingering tightness in the leg muscle isn’t serious.

Werth hasn’t played in a week, since May 2, when he left after five innings when the hamstring tightened on him again after resting it for two games. Johnson suggested on Wednesday that Werth’s recent bout with a stomach bug has deprived his body of fluids and the dehydration is the root of the continued muscle cramping.

After being evaluated by a doctor in Atlanta and then his personal doctor, the Nationals’ team doctor, Wiemi Douoguih, examined Werth on Wednesday. Werth underwent a series of tests and running before Wednesday’s game and performed well. But later there was still tightness.

Werth underwent an MRI test on Thursday and a preliminary review showed nothing was wrong. Johnson had originally feared that the lingering hamstring issue meant that muscle had been pulled, which would require a stint on the disabled list. Johnson said the Nationals weren’t yet ready to give a timetable on Werth’s return until Douoguih finely examined the test results.

Werth was also prescribed antibiotics for the stomach bug. “I imagine what he’s on he’ll be good to go soon,” Johnson said.

Before Thursday’s game, Werth stretched near the batting cages and then took swings in the batting cage, spraying balls around the field and over the fence. He then stretched with  Matt Eiden, an assistant strength coach, and Steve Gober, an assistant trainer, in right field. With Eiden alongside, Werth ran sprints on the warning track with no apparent issue.

Because of injuries, illness and slumping, the Nationals have taken the field with their projected opening day lineup only 10 of 33 games this season, all at the beginning of the season. Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche were all in the same lineup in their regular spots last with the accompanying cast on April 14. Johnson has used a rotation of mostly Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina to fill the third outfield spot alongside Bryce Harper and Denard Span.

“That’s been kinda the theme this year,” Johnson said. “We had it a little bit with Zim, not knowing with his hamstring. We’d have some little kinda nagging injuries. Some guys were under the weather a couple days. We’ve been playing one man short.”