Although the Nationals have performed well with bench players and minor leaguers being promoted, it appears as though they’ve received some good news about their outfield. Jayson Werth has progressed far enough after injuring his left foot that he’s heading down to West Palm Beach to work out with the team’s Gulf Coast club at the organization’s spring training facility.
As you might remember, Werth has been out since he fouled off a pitch that hit his left foot during a game against Oakland on June 3rd. It was so badly bruised that he wasn’t even able to put weight on it for several weeks. Last week, however, he was seen at Nationals Park playing catch and doing some jogging before games.
While the original plan was for him to get in some playing time with the Gulf Coast team, it appears as though the GCL rules actually prevent him from playing with the club because he’s been in baseball for more than three years.
“We had a bit of a wrench,” manager Dusty Baker said according to Mark Zuckerman. “He was trying to play down there in the Gulf Coast League, but I guess when you’re a certain … I don’t know if it’s age or amount of time in the big leagues, you’re not allowed to play with the kids down there. So he’ll just continue to work until he’s ready to go play.”
That means he’ll likely be getting some time in with one of the organization’s other affiliates relatively soon as he’s expected to be back with the Nats after the All Star break if everything goes as planned.
While there’s no doubt that the Nationals are looking forward to Werth returning to the lineup, it does put them in the unique position of deciding which player they’ll have to demote. Both Brian Goodwin and Ryan Raburn have been performing well for the Nats since Werth went to the DL — both defensively and offensively.
Raburn was specifically called up to take Werth’s spot on the roster and has slashed a .317/.364/.463 line while playing in 17 games. Goodwin has played in more games this year (43) and is hitting .261/.333/.504 — but those numbers don’t reflect his improvement recently as he’s been getting more consistent at bats.
If you look at from purely the business standpoint, it looks like Goodwin will likely be heading down as he has options left on his contract while the veteran Raburn doesn’t. Combine that with Raburn’s slightly higher numbers so far and it looks like the veteran outfielder will be staying with the big league club.