Nationals’ Jayson Werth Hasn’t Made Progress in Injury Recovery

It looks like the Washington Nationals won’t be getting outfielder Jayson Werth back in the lineup on July 21st versus the Arizona Diamondbacks after all.

The 38-year-old Werth was slated to begin a rehab assignment today in Florida, but per Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals manager Dusty Baker revealed to the media earlier today that Werth is still experiencing pain in his left toe, and won’t begin a rehab assignment of any kind until he is 100% pain free.

“It’s just that his foot is not responding as we had hoped,” Baker said. “So we had to make alternative plans now. He’s worked so hard. He’s just frustrated. He just can’t put the pressure on it like he’d want to right now to play the full phase of baseball. Again, we just have to wait until that thing heals. We had no idea that it was going to be this long or as serious as it is.”

Washington has been without Werth since June 3rd after suffering a bruised left toe in a game versus the Oakland Athletics. The original timetable for Werth’s return to the Nationals’ outfield was set at 4-6 weeks, which has obviously passed at this point.

Without Werth in the lineup, the Nationals have tapped into their depth to replace the 2009 all-star’s production. They brought up prospect Brian Goodwin from Triple-A to serve as the full-time left fielder, but Goodwin has since been pushed to center field after an oblique injury sent Michael Taylor to the disabled list. With Goodwin in center field and star Bryce Harper in right, Baker has used Chris Heisey, Adam Lind, and Ryan Raburn in left field.

Whoever draws the start in left for the Nationals with Werth and Taylor on the shelf is dependent on match-ups right now, with Werth suffering a setback, and Taylor having an unknown timetable for return. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo isn’t using the term ‘setback’ with Werth’s injury, however:

“I wouldn’t call it a setback,” Rizzo said. “It’s just that the soreness in the toe flares up a little bit when he starts really pushing on it and running on it hard. So we’re going to give a little more time to make sure he’s a 100 percent ready to go. When he comes off the DL, we want him to go for the full go throughout the whole season.”

Looking ahead to when Werth returns to the Nationals, he will be playing in what could very well be his last regular season games of his MLB career with the Nationals a virtual lock to qualify for the playoffs. Werth is in the final year of a seven-year, $126 million contract he signed with the Nationals back in December 2010, and while Werth hasn’t said anything about retiring after season’s end, retirement could very well be in the cards for him.

Obviously, Werth won’t command that lucrative of a contract again this off-season, and likely won’t get anything beyond a two-year contract at the max. Werth may also have to take his career to the American League where he can be a designated hitter, as his defensive skills have declined significantly over the last few years.

For his career, Werth is a .269/.362/.458 hitter with 227 home runs, 788 runs batted in, and 132 stolen bases. In 47 games for the Nationals this year, Werth has a batting line that reads as .262/.367/.446 with 8 home runs and 18 runs batted in.

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