Veteran Werth talks wrist, Harper

The Washington Post Sunday - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL -

Jayson Werth will turn 34 in May, mak­ing him the old­est player among those likely to make the 25-man ros­ter. His voice has car­ried weight in the Na­tion­als’ club­house since the day he ar­rived.

Satur­day, Werth held court for roughly 20 min­utes, hit­ting on var­i­ous topics.

He will en­ter the year with his sur­gi­cally re­paired wrist still not back to full strength. He broke the wrist in early May last year, and doc­tors have told him the full re­cov­ery will take 18 to 24 months. He can still be pro­duc­tive – last year, he hit .312 with .394 on-base per­cent­age and a .441 slug­ging per­cent­age upon re­turn­ing for the fi­nal two months of the sea­son. He said he would wait and see if the wrist would af­fect his spring rou­tine.

“It’s coming along,” Werth said. “. . . It’s def­i­nitely not as strong as it was [be­fore the in­jury]. I’ve been hit­ting. It doesn’t bother me. I feel strong. Ob­vi­ously, the num­bers are go­ing to speak for them­selves. I def­i­nitely didn’t have as much power when I came back from the in­jury as be­fore the in­jury. I felt like I did a pretty good job. I played at a pretty good level. I ex­pect just to get bet­ter.”

Werth also re­vealed that the Na­tion­als have de­cided that he will play right field, with Bryce Harper con­tin­u­ing to learn the out­field in left.

“There were some things he’s got to work on,” Werth said of Harper. “It’s just a mat­ter of time. When that time comes, I’ll move to left and stay there the rest of the way prob­a­bly. We’re not there yet.

“There’s just a lot more re­spon­si­bil­ity in right. There’s an ex­pe­ri­ence fac­tor to play­ing the out­field. Left is where you can get by with the least amount of ex­pe­ri­ence. That’s where Bryce is right now. He’s an in­ex­pe­ri­enced big league out­fielder. . . .

“He could progress at a rel­a­tively quick rate, like he does ev­ery­thing else. I think it’s more up to him than it is me. I’m not stand­ing in his way by any means. When I mess around with him, I al­ways tell him, ‘De­fen­sive li­a­bil­i­ties play left.’ That’s where we’re at right now.””

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