ATLANTA — Originally in the Nationals' lineup for Saturday night's game against the Braves, Jayson Werth was scratched due to nagging shoulder and ankle injuries that have now forced the veteran right fielder to miss the first two games of this key series.
Werth sat out Friday night's opener at Turner Field to give both ailments a chance to heal. Though he was supposed to be available off the bench, he remained in the dugout wearing a pullover with two outs in the ninth inning of a 7-6 game, with Danny Espinosa instead pinch-hitting against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.
Werth was in the Nationals' original lineup posted Saturday afternoon, and manager Matt Williams expressed cautious optimism he would be good to go.
"He's getting worked on right now," Williams said shortly after 5 p.m. "He's going to go swing. As far as I know, everything's OK."
One hour later, Werth was scratched from the lineup, with Bryce Harper shifting to right field and Kevin Frandsen taking over in left field.
Werth hurt the shoulder while trying to catch a ball up against the right-field fence last week at Nationals Park. He hurt his ankle a few days later, aggravating it while trying to run out a groundball.
"He's been playing with it, but it can get cranky every once in a while," Williams said of the shoulder ailment. "He's had a little bit of an issue with it. It's been sore on occasion. And if he takes a funky swing or swings at a bad ball, where he's really got to extend, then it gets him, then it'll get sore again. He's been playing with it for, I don't know, a week and a half or so. Playing really well, too."
Indeed, Werth was just named NL Player of the Month for July, though he's 7-for-27 with four RBI so far in August.
Needing a replacement for Werth on Friday, Williams turned to Souza, who made his first career start in right field. But the rookie also hurt his shoulder on a violent collision with the fence while trying to rob a Freddie Freeman home run.
Souza, who came out of the game one inning later, said he was feeling better Saturday, though the shoulder remains pretty sore and he was unsure if he'd be available off the bench. He remained confident that the injury was minor and not at all head-related, having passed several concussion tests Friday night and Saturday morning.