Six weeks ago Jayson Werth was given a 9-12 week recovery timetable for his broken left wrist and he’s basically still on that same track, with manager Davey Johnson saying yesterday that the Nationals hope to have the outfielder back around August 1.
Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Werth is no longer wearing a cast on the wrist, which he had repaired via surgery on May 6, but likely won’t be cleared to begin baseball activities until mid-July.
Ryan Zimmerman’s disabled list stint followed by Werth’s injury led to the Nationals giving Bryce Harper an extended chance and the 19-year-old phenom has hit .289 with seven homers and an .882 OPS in 45 games while splitting his time pretty evenly between right field and center field. By comparison Werth hit .238 with 23 homers and a .732 OPS in his first 177 games for the Nationals.
Once everyone is healthy the Nationals could potentially use an outfield of Mike Morse, Harper, and Werth, but for now rookie Steve Lombardozzi will continue to play regularly in left field.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.