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Well, for the first time in a month, they finally get to talk about the impact one of those players' return will have on the club's fortunes: Jayson Werth.
Having successfully completed a five-game rehab stint with Class A Potomac, Werth is scheduled to come off the disabled list Tuesday and be in the Nationals' lineup for their series opener against the Mets. And not a moment too soon for a club that could desperately use the veteran outfielder's contributions, especially at the plate after he went 9-for-17 with two homers on his rehab assignment.
"That'll be a shot in the arm," manager Davey Johnson said following yesterday's loss to the Braves. "He must've been really feeling frisky. He'll be ready to carry us on his shoulders, I'm sure."
Whoa, let's not get too excited here. Werth will have a positive effect, but the odds of him carrying the Nationals on his shoulders seem remote.
What Werth will bring to the table, though, are two things the Nationals have sorely been lacking since he last played May 2 before a strained hamstring sidelined him: 1) Professional at-bats with an emphasis on reaching base, and 2) Reliable defense in right field.
How much have the Nationals struggled to put men on base? Well, their team OBP following yesterday's game fell to .287. That's not only the lowest mark in the majors at the moment, it would rank among the five worst marks in baseball since 1969.
Enter Werth, whose .308 on-base percentage in April was not good but who boasts a .361 career mark in that department. He also sees an average of 4.43 pitches per plate appearance during his career, far more than the Nationals' team average of 3.84.
And Werth tends to draw walks, something the Nationals haven't been doing at all. They've now drawn six total walks in their last seven games, a staggeringly low sum. Think Werth might help a bit in that department?
"It'd be big," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "Just having him in there, you always hear about guys and their presence in the lineup, but he's a guy that can wreak some havoc on the bases, great defender and has a knack for getting on base. That's what we need right now."
Defensively, Werth will help shore up an outfield that, with Harper sidelined as well, has been forced to use a revolving door of Roger Bernadina, Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi in the two corner positions. With right field now taken care of on a daily basis, Johnson only needs to use one of those three reserves in the lineup, picking the matchup that makes the most sense and making late defensive substitutions if necessary.
So, obviously Werth's return will have a positive impact on the field for the Nationals. It should also make a difference in the clubhouse. Even though this group has stuck together well despite its struggles, the absence of one of its key veteran leaders for the last month has been noticeable.
Is the addition of a 34-year-old right fielder alone going to turn the Nationals' season around? Probably not. But for the first time in a while, they're getting key players back on the roster instead of losing them.
"He's a huge part of our team, as far as leadership, character, things like that," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "And he can contribute on the baseball field. Like I said, it's just a matter of time before we get our pieces back and start playing better and all these questions will be over with."