ALLENTOWN, Pa.— Jayson Werth has played in 1,560 major league games, recorded 6,273 plate appearances, been an all-star and won a World Series. Monday night, wearing the cap of the Syracuse Chiefs and facing an opponent known as the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, he took his spot in left field and was downright giddy.
“I was like a little kid,” Werth said Tuesday afternoon. “It was so much fun. I felt like I was as old as Trea.”
Werth, 38, and Washington Nationals teammate Trea Turner, 24, are here with Class AAA Syracuse rehabbing an injured toe and wrist, respectively. They were scheduled to play Tuesday and Wednesday nights for the Chiefs, take Thursday off, and then report to Class A Potomac on Friday for a couple of more appearances before getting a status update.
“I’m hoping this whole process is going to go fast, and I’m obviously hoping that I’ll be able to come back and pick right back up where I was,” Werth said. “It’s probably going to be a little bit of a learning curve, but hopefully not.”
Werth injured his toe June 3 in Oakland and was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise. He later said he had a fracture of his first metatarsal. After a three-week stint in a walking boot, he has been free to do just about anything but run. That includes hitting in the cage and, more recently, taking batting practice on the field. His timing, he said, should be in fairly good shape because he took three separate trips to the Nats’ spring headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he occasionally took as many as 15 at-bats a day off minor league and rehabbing pitchers.
“That was really a cool thing that we did, and I think it helped me,” Werth, who hit .262 with eight homers in the 47 games he played this season, said. “I think I’m going to get all of September [in the majors]. I think I’ll be all right. We’re talking about being ready for October, not April. It’s not like I haven’t been doing this for the last seven months. I took a three-week vacation [when he was in the boot], but in the middle of the season. That’s not as big of a deal as when the season ends and you haven’t picked up a bat for three months and you’re trying to get ready.”
Turner suffered a broken right wrist June 29, when he was hit by a pitch from Pedro Strop of the Chicago Cubs. The shortstop, who was hitting .279 with seven homers and 35 steals in his 68 games, had never missed this much time in the middle of a season, and the five innings he played Monday night were the first since the injury.
“I was kind of just looking around, when I was at shortstop, just looking in the stands and soaking it in,” Turner said. “It was kind of good to be back in the middle of the field. It’s not fun watching.”
Unlike Werth, Turner was unable to hit until recently. He said he doesn’t really have a feel for how he’ll know he’s ready.
“Down here, let’s say I go 100 for 100, and I get up there and I could go in a slump,” Turner said. “Or vice versa: I could be terrible down here and go up there and be better. As of now, I feel really good in the sense that I get in the box and the pitches don’t look that hard to me. I feel like I’m seeing it good. It’s a matter of putting the bat on the ball and getting that hand-eye coordination down.”
Werth went 1 for 3 and Turner 0 for 3 Monday. Turner was back in the lineup Tuesday night, leading off, with Werth hitting third.
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