Jayson Werth was originally scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment with High-A Potomac this evening. However, Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com passes along word that the Nationals decided to scratch him due to a combination of the poor weather and some stiffness in his surgically-repaired left wrist.
It’s not a major concern at this time, as Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that the stiffness was expected and that Werth should be good to go tomorrow instead.
“That’s a good sign,” Johnson said. “He said he pushed it to the point where it got a little stiff. And he said once you get that, you’re good to go. He said he heated it up a little in here and did a few exercises and felt great. So he’s going tomorrow. No biggie.”
Werth has been sidelined since breaking his wrist while trying to make a sliding catch on May 6 against the Phillies. Barring any setbacks, he figures to rejoin the Nationals’ lineup in the early part of August, which should push left fielder Steve Lombardozzi back into a super-utility role.
Werth, who is in the second year of a seven-year, $126 million contract, was hitting .276 with three homers, 12 RBI and an .810 OPS in 27 games prior to the injury.
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.