Jayson Werth has taken a small but important step in his recovery from a fractured left wrist, starting to shag fly balls and grip a bat for the first time since suffering his injury one month ago.
Werth was on the field during batting practice Friday, catching fly balls with his glove on the injured hand and showing no ill effects from it. He hasn’t been cleared to start swinging yet, but that advancement will come soon enough.
“Good sign that he’s able to do that,” manager Matt Williams said. “They feel like the bones are healed enough to put a little pressure, which is part of the end of the rehab process anyway. He was fine coming out of that, so he’ll do more of that and let the bone continue to heal. Go from there. What is he, almost five weeks in now? Don’t expect any issues with it.”
Werth was injured May 14 when he was struck in the hand by a fastball. Placed on the 15-day disabled list with what was initially diagnosed as a bruise, he didn’t show much signs of recovery after two weeks, at which point he visited a specialist at the Mayo Clinic who discovered two small fractures in the wrist.
Werth is expected to be out until roughly August 1, so there remains a long way to go until he’s approaching game-shape. These recent advancements, though, are a key step in the longer process.
“Catching fly balls in the outfield is part of it,” Williams said. “And it adds a little stress to the bone, but during the end of the healing process, that’s actually a good thing as long as he doesn’t go too far and re-fracture. He felt good about it yesterday, which is a good sign.”
Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, was scheduled to throw off a bullpen mound Saturday, the final step in his return to the Nationals’ rotation.
Strasburg, out since May 29 with a strained left trapezius muscle, came out of Wednesday’s 5-inning rehab start at Class AA Harrisburg with no issues. Saturday’s bullpen session was the final hurdle to clear before the Nationals would declare the right-hander ready to come off the DL and rejoin the rotation.
As things stand, Strasburg is most likely to start Tuesday night against the Braves.
“The start that he had was an indication that feels OK,” Williams said. “This last bullpen will give us further indication that he’s good coming out of that and ready for a next one. There’s no reason he wouldn’t be in our rotation if he feels good.”