CINCINNATI — Thursday, the Nationals learned Jayson Werth’s left wrist has fractures in it, breaks suffered when he was hit by a pitch in San Diego on May 15. An X-ray taken after that game came back negative. An MRI taken a few days later revealed no structural damage. But Werth did not feel right, and headed to the Mayo Clinic on Thursday to see his longtime doctor, Richard Berger, who has looked after the injury-riddled wrist for a decade.
He underwent a CT scan, which revealed two fractures in the wrist that did not show up on the X-ray or MRI.
“It’s a more extensive test than an X-Ray or an MRI, ” said Nationals Manager Matt Williams, who said all the Nationals could do was rely on the tests until the pain did not improve, at which point they sought more extensive testing.
“[The CT] can look deeper. It explains a lot. It explains why he had the pain, the continued pain,” Williams said. “The good thing about it is, he didn’t push it, so it’s within the healing process now.”
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said he “wasn’t totally surprised” by the diagnosis because Werth “knows his body well,” particularly that left wrist, which has been broken, torn and required surgery at various points in his career.
“It’s been a part of his career for so long, and he never felt like it was right,” Rizzo said. “That was the reason we had him go see Berger.”
Werth headed home, so he is not with the Nationals in Cincinnati. Williams said he spoke to the 36-year-old left fielder, who “is frustrated,” but “it just didn’t feel right.” He said the Nationals have no definitive time frame for a return. A positive, he said, is that once the bones heal, Werth will not risk further injury by jumping back into baseball. He will need to get in baseball shape and get at-bats, but whereas a ligament or tendon injury might require extended caution, bone injuries heal fully. An initial timetable provided Thursday had Werth out until August, but neither Rizzo nor Williams said as much Friday.
In the meantime, Rizzo said he believes the Nationals can fill in for Werth with options already in the organization, as opposed to those acquired via trade or other transaction. That does not mean they will not make a move. But Rizzo said he thinks that given regular major league at-bats, Michael A. Taylor can begin to grow into a more consistent player. Tyler Moore showed in spring training that he, too, grows into a more consistent hitter the more at bats he has (most players do). Williams said the team will continue to match-up as they have for the past two weeks, “try to figure out what the best plan for that particular day is.”
“Of course, if somebody gets hot and starts playing really well, then we can make that adjustment, too,” he said. “But for right now, we’ll keep it as is.”
Taylor will start in left field Friday night, and as a standout defensive option, could be expected to start there more often than not in the coming months. Whoever fills in, it will be hard to patch the hole left by Werth, a middle-of-the-order hitter and center-of-the-clubhouse presence.