Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth had to leave this afternoon’s game against the Rockies after suffering a left groin strain, due in part to dehydration from the flu, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Werth had singled to lead off the inning, but was pinch-run for by Roger Bernadina. Werth entered today’s game with a .256/.312/.413 slash line, low by his standards.
Werth previously missed a month between the beginning of May and the beginning of June due to a strained right hamstring. His tenure with the Nationals, now in his third year after signing a seven-year, $126 million free agent contract, has been plagued by injuries. He suffered a fractured left wrist last year that caused him to miss most of May and all of June and July.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.