Jul 16, 2015, 11:42 AM EDT
Jayson Werth will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac tonight, the Nationals’ minor-league affiliate announced, possibly positioning the veteran outfielder to return from a fractured left wrist before the end of the month.
Werth, out since getting hit by a pitch May 15 in San Diego, had been targeting an August 1 return from the disabled list. That timetable, though, may be expedited if he’s able to make it through these early rehab games with no issues.
The 36-year-old outfielder had surgery two weeks after initially getting hurt; it took that long before a specialist at the Mayo Clinic was able to detect two small fractures in his wrist. At the time, Werth said he hoped to return in August.
Werth has made significant progress over the last few weeks, resuming baseball activities, swinging a bat and working in the outfield. Given his prolonged absence, this rehab assignment could still take awhile. He’ll need to gradually work his way up from playing a few innings at a time to playing full games back-to-back, all while getting as many at-bats as possible.
Still, Werth’s eventual return from injury should be a boon for a Nationals lineup that has been reduced to bare bones at times in recent weeks, with fellow regulars Ryan Zimmerman (foot), Anthony Rendon (quadriceps) and Denard Span (back) also currently on the DL. The Nats have yet to field a lineup this season with all eight of their projected Opening Day starters.
Werth began the season on the DL while recovering from right shoulder surgery, and he was only starting to get his swing together when he got hit by the pitch in San Diego. Overall, he’s hitting .208 with a .294 on-base percentage and .287 slugging percentage in 27 games played, though he had posted a .910 OPS over his last nine games before suffering the wrist injury.
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