Span, Werth progressing during injury rehabs

Span, Werth progressing during injury rehabs

WASHINGTON -- Four key Nationals players who started the season on the disabled list continue to make progress in their recoveries.

Center fielder Denard Span (right core muscle surgery) felt good on Thursday, following two days of batting in simulated games, working out and running sprints. Span and Jayson Werth (right shoulder AC joint surgery) took several at-bats per day against Nats Minor League pitchers.

"The guy was trying to get me out," Span said. "There's no fielders on the field, but we were competing. If anything, it was good mentally to get back into the competitive mode. The guy's throwing 90 mph, so I have to gear up to hit that."

Span is scheduled to return to the club's complex in Viera, Fla., after Thursday afternoon's game against the Mets. He will play more simulated games for the next two days, logging at-bats, running the bases and playing in the field. The biggest test, Span said, will be how he reacts to taking his first step out of the box after hitting the ball, and then taking his first step and accelerating on the bases.

If everything goes well with Span's two simulated games, the Nats then could look to get him in some Minor League rehab games, according to manager Matt Williams.

Reliever Casey Janssen (right shoulder inflammation) will join Span on the trip to Florida to begin his throwing program, Williams said.

Werth was scheduled to take full batting practice with the team on Thursday, watch some of the game against the Mets, then head to Woodbridge, Va., to play his first rehab game, in Class A Advanced Potomac's season opener. But with cold weather and rain in the forecast, Williams indicated the Nats could decide to back off of that plan.

"We don't want any issues," Williams said of Werth, who already was unlikely to come off the DL on Saturday, when eligible. "It's going to be cold, we know that. It's not balmy Viera by any stretch. We want to make sure he's loose and ready to play. He's had a little bit of experience the last couple of days with cooler temperatures and has showed no ill effects from it. Just make sure he's hot and ready and get him in there as much as we can and then we'll look to tomorrow and see what we can get from that."

Third baseman Anthony Rendon (left knee sprain) is further away from returning, but he progressed to doing some side-to-side movement and change-of-direction activities on Wednesday, according to Williams. Rendon's next step will be "modified ground ball activity," which involves him getting into position to field the ball. From there, he would continue to ramp up the intensity with regular ground balls and live batting practice.

"It can turn quickly, too," Williams said. "It's not like we're looking at six weeks from now necessarily. It can turn quickly if he feels good about it and there's no issue, pain-wise."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.