Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth will be sidelined through at least August after a CT scan performed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. today revealed a pair of small fractures in his left wrist, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. Werth “could return as early as August,” if his rehab goes according to plan, writes Ladson, though that suggests that August is somewhat of a best-case scenario. The injury appears to have been sustained when he was hit by a pitch on May 15.
How the Nationals deal with the injury remains to be seen. The team was without center fielder Denard Span for an extended period of time to open the season and elected to patch the hole with top prospect Michael A. Taylor, who performed well in Span’s absence. Certainly, with both Span and Taylor capable of playing a plus center field, it stands to reason that one of the two (likely Taylor) could slide over to left field and more than adequately handle the position from a defensive standpoint.
Taylor was only briefly optioned to Triple-A after Span’s return, and he remains with the club now, though he’s struggled as of late. It’s possible that infrequent playing time has given him trouble, but the 24-year-old has just two hits in his past 26 plate appearances and has struck out in 12 of those trips to the dish. Strikeouts have been an issue for Taylor in the past. Despite a strong .304/.390/.526 batting line in Triple-A last season, he punched out 144 times in 493 PAs (29.2 percent).
The Nationals have some other alternatives in house, including Tyler Moore, Clint Robinson and the rehabbing Nate McLouth. But, if Taylor struggles for a prolonged period, it’s feasible that the Werth injury could lead them to look outside the organization. Wrist injuries can often lead to offensive struggles even after they’ve healed, so it might make sense for the Nats to safeguard themselves against a temporarily power-sapped Werth as they assess their roster prior to a hopeful postseason run. I don’t expect a significant addition in the near future, though I do wonder if the club might take a look at recently designated Alejandro De Aza, provided the Orioles pay most of the roughly $3.55MM remaining on his 2015 salary.