Nationals' Werth out 10 to 12 weeks

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Craig Stouffer

Right fielder undergoes surgery on broken wrist

Bryce Harper didn't realize the extent of the left wrist injury suffered by Jayson Werth on Sunday against Philadelphia until reporters told him afterward.

"Did he break his wrist?" Harper said. "Wow, that sucks. That's really bad."

So bad that the Nationals (18-10), who have sprinted to an early lead in the National League East, will spend most of the summer without the right fielder, whose resurgent start to his second season in Washington has helped them get there.

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Where » PNC Park, Pittsburgh
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On Monday, Werth underwent surgery to repair a displaced left distal radius fracture. He will be able to resume strengthening exercises after six weeks, but players who have suffered similar injuries typically take 10 to 12 weeks to return.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Richard A. Berger of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., the same doctor who six years ago repaired a ligament injury in the same wrist that allowed Werth to resurrect his career. The latest break occurred opposite from the 2005 injury, which affected the ulnar side of the wrist.

"We seem to be getting healthy, and boom, another one of our main guys goes down," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "It's just baseball. It seems like this year we've been getting more than our fair share. But we've still got a lot of good players here. We'll weather this one."

Werth has had wrist problems since he was hit by a pitch in spring training with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005. He missed 44 games that season and all of 2006, undergoing surgery for what was called a UT ligament split tear.

Werth's latest injury was suffered when he slid to catch a blooper from Placido Polanco and got his glove caught in the turf, bending his wrist sharply backward.

Johnson plans to move Harper to right field in Werth's absence, while a number of players could see time in left, including Xavier Nady, Roger Bernadina, Steve Lombardozzi and Chad Tracy. Without Werth, Harper's early call-up to the big leagues could turn into an extended stay.

"Bryce has come up and provided a little spark," Nady said. "He needs to just keep playing the game the way he has, providing ups with a little extra energy -- that 19-year-old energy."

Washington is expecting third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder) and first baseman Adam LaRoche (oblique) to return Tuesday at Pittsburgh.

Werth's departure made an immediate impression in the Nationals' clubhouse, which was hauntingly quiet after Sunday's 9-3 loss to the Phillies. Through 27 games, Werth hit .276 -- up from his .232 average last year, the first of a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals. Harper and Werth had worked together to strategize against pitcher Cole Hamels' pickoff move, leading to Harper stealing home.

"It's early," Zimmerman said. "We're in first place, whatever our record is, and we haven't had our team together. We're talented. We have good enough pitching and defense to get through these tough times without our offense together."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner