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Nats call up Difo, place Werth on DL

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Nats call up Difo, place Werth on DL

Updated at 6:21 p.m.

The Nationals have promoted Wilmer Difo from Class AA Harrisburg and will have their top infield prospect in uniform Tuesday night against the Yankees in a surprising move necessitated by outfielder Jayson Werth going on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist contusion.

Difo was summoned to D.C. on Monday night, but the Nationals didn't make the transaction official until Tuesday afternoon, when they determined Werth's injured wrist hadn't healed enough to allow him to return to the lineup.

An MRI taken of Werth's wrist Monday showed no fractures or tendon damage, according to a source familiar with the results, suggesting the injury is not serious. The veteran outfielder, though, needs more time to let the wrist (which was struck by a pitch in San Diego on Friday) heal before he can play, so a stint on the 15-day DL became necessary. The move is back-dated to May 16, so Werth will be eligible to return on May 31.

"It's still swollen," manager Matt Williams said. "So we have to get that taken care of before he can even start back. Three days down already. Not really ready for a few more to even get back to swinging, and then working through that. So it's important for us to have a full 25[-man] roster, and if he's going to be down for another week before he can get back in the game anyway, than we're looking at 10 days."

Difo's ascension to the big leagues is way ahead of schedule — he spent all of 2014 at low-Class A Hagerstown and has played only 33 games this season between high-Class A Potomac and Harrisburg — but his call-up likely will be short-term and isn't indication the organization believes he's ready to play at the major-league level on a regular basis yet.

The Nationals had only four healthy minor-league position players on their 40-man roster: Difo, outfielders Matt den Dekker and Brian Goodwin, catcher Dan Butler. With Michael Taylor, Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson all already on the major-league roster and able to play left field in Werth's absence, the organization didn't necessarily need to add another outfielder to the mix.

"He gives us a lot of options," Williams said. "He gives us another middle infielder without having to move Yunel [Escobar from third base], potentially. It allows us to utilize Dan Uggla a little bit more than ordinary, because he would be the other middle infielder. There's a lot of things that go into it, but he provides a lot of things for us."

Difo, 23, offers the club extra infield help and speed off the bench on a short-term basis. He's hitting a combined .315 with a .367 0n-base percentage and .887 OPS while stealing seven bases in eight tries so far this season. The Dominican native will become the first player signed by the Nationals out of Latin America to reach the big leagues since the 2009 revelation that a prospect claiming to be named Esmailyn Gonzalez had falsified his identity, leading to then-GM Jim Bowden's resignation and the promotion of Mike Rizzo to take over baseball operations.

Difo made an impression on the organization this spring, his first in big-league camp, but he admittedly didn't think his debut would come yet.

"Obviously he was surprised it was so soon, but he felt he was prepared," said bullpen catcher Octavio Martinez, interpreting for Difo. "That's what he works for, to help out any way he can."

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Nationals trade Brian Goodwin to Kansas City Royals

Nationals trade Brian Goodwin to Kansas City Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  -- Outfielder Brian Goodwin has been acquired by the Kansas City Royals from the Washington Nationals for minor league pitcher Jacob Condra-Bogan.

The 27-year-old Goodwin hit .200 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 48 games for the Nationals this season. He bruised his left wrist diving for a ball and did not play from April 15 until May 15, when he had two at-bats. He went back on the disabled list, returned June 1 and is hitting .171 (7 for 41) since.

Condra-Bogan, 23, went 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 16 relief outings with Lexington of the South Atlantic League and one appearance with Wilmington of the Carolina League, also Class A.

The trade was announced Sunday.

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.

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