“Nice to have them back,” Nationals Manager Matt Williams said. “We’ll have to monitor as they go — certainly day games after night games, couple days back-to-back, three in a row or something like that. I know they’re both ready. We were here yesterday working out and they feel ready to go, so that’s important for them.”
Werth returns after a 61-game absence that spanned more than two-and-a-half months as he recoved from two small fractures and a bad bone bruise in his left wrist. Werth was hit by a pitch on May 15 and landed on the disabled list the next day. He played in nine minor league rehab games, going 11 for 30 with two doubles and seven RBI.
Zimmerman missed 49 games while nursing left plantar fasciitis. He played in five rehab games, notching only one hit in 15 at-bats. While Zimmerman refused to make excuses for his .209 average and .611 OPS before the disabled list stint, though his sore left foot likely played a part in his struggle.
Because plantar fasciitis is a chronic condition, Zimmerman expects to feel soreness every once in a while. He said after a rehab game last week that he would not return unless he can play every day, but said Tuesday he can’t say for sure that he won’t need one now and then.
“Obviously it’s frustrating to miss time, but things happen, and I think we got to the point now where it feels good and shouldn’t be a problem for the remainder of the season,” Zimmerman said. “I’m just excited to be back with the guys.”
The Nationals are averaging 3.8 runs per game since the all-star break, so they are excited to restore the heart of their order — though their projected eight starters have yet to play a game together. Denard Span is not swinging a bat yet, still strengthening his core muscles before returning to baseball activities, so that octet will not unite for a few weeks, at least.
In the meantime, the Nationals lineup looks longer and deeper than it has all season, with Rendon sliding to the leadoff spot, Werth the third spot, and Zimmerman fifth. Werth has an .833 OPS and Zimmerman a .818 OPS entering Tuesday night. Both work counts with experience and provide power, though neither showed his usual pop while recovering from and battling injury earlier this season.
“The guys that have been in the lineup have done a great job,” Zimmerman said. “This team has scored runs. Obviously the last few games, 10 games or so, have faced some pretty tough pitching and still managed to do a pretty good job against that. With all the injuries we’ve had to go through this year, we’re still where we want to be almost in August, and I think not enough can be said about what the guys have done that have played that weren’t supposed to play this much.”
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