Monday, May 7, 2012
Nationals suffer big loss with Werth injury
By David Schoenfield
Already struggling to score runs, the Washington Nationals have lost right fielder Jayson Werth for about six weeks after he broke his left wrist trying to make a diving catch on Sunday.
It's the same wrist Werth injured with the Dodgers in 2005, an injury that forced him to miss an entire season and placed his career in jeopardy. Werth will consult with doctors from the Mayo Clinic and also meet with the doctor who operated on his wrist in 2005.
The Nationals have been a great story so far with a 18-10 record, but it's been all about the pitching. They have a staff ERA of 2.59 and the starters have a 2.17 ERA, a .197 opponents batting average and have allowed one run or no runs in 16 of 28 starts. But while they're eight games over .500, they've only outscored their opponents by 12 runs, a difficult ratio to maintain. Werth was one of the few hitters doing anything at the plate, hitting .276/.372/.439, good enough to rank second on the team in OPS behind Adam LaRoche (not including the recently recalled Bryce Harper).
In Werth's absence, expect Harper to move to right field with Xavier Nady and Roger Bernadina platooning in left. Backup infielder Steve Lombardozzi could also see some time out there, as Ryan Zimmerman is expected to return from his own DL stint on Tuesday. LaRoche should also be back in the lineup after missing a few games with an abdominal strain. Considering Nady is hitting .119 and Bernadina .200, don't be surprised to see Lombardozzi get his share of action out there, at least until Mike Morse returns from the back injury that has kept him sidelined all season. He has target return date of June 1.
The Nationals rank 14th in the NL in runs scored, averaging just 3.4 runs per game. Zimmerman was struggling when he went on the DL, hitting .224/.324/.345. Second baseman Danny Espinosa is hitting just .192 with one home run, two RBIs and is tied for second in the majors with 34 strikeouts. But Werth's replacements will have to produce some offense.
"We have to step up, guys in the outfield," Nady told MLB.com. "There is enough talent on this team to step in. It's a long season, Hopefully, we can hold it down [until] he gets back. I feel bad for him. It stinks."