- The Washington Times
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Jayson Werth’s toe has caused a hole in the lineup. In the three games he has missed because of a toe contusion, the hitters in the No. 2 spot of the lineup are a combined 1-for-11.

Thursday, Nationals manager Dusty Baker did not make it sound like Werth would be returning soon. The 37-year-old left fielder is on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to June 4, and has prompted Washington to use a makeshift group in his stead. Veteran Ryan Raburn and youngster Brian Goodwin have been used to replace Werth. Baker has decided to keep the rest of his lineup intact — it has produced the best offense in the National League as constructed — instead of moving a more accomplished hitter, like Anthony Rendon, into Werth’s lineup spot. Wilmer Difo hit second Thursday.

“It’s not going to be quick,” Baker said of Werth’s recovery. “… We’re not planning on Jayson the next few days. He’s trying to get the swelling out of there.”

Two bullpen factors are trying to heal, as well. Reliever Joe Blanton was placed on the 10-day disabled list May 17 because of right shoulder inflammation. A season after being exquisite for the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen, Blanton has careened his way to a 9.49 ERA in Washington. Blanton relies heavily on throwing sliders, dispatching the pitch even more often than his fastball last season and almost at the same rate this season. Sliders can put a lot of stress on pitcher’s arms.

But, Blanton is moving forward. He started a rehabilitation assignment Thursday with Double-A Harrisburg.

In Florida, left-hander Sammy Solis continues to throw. Solis was placed on the 10-day disabled list April 19 because of left elbow inflammation. He threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Tuesday. Baker did not know what the specific next step for Solis is. He, and an effective Blanton, would be boosts to a flailing bullpen group that has begun to right itself.

• Todd Dybas can be reached at tdybas@washingtontimes.com.

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