PHOENIX -- Even with the Nationals beginning to play as anticipated this offseason following their 7-13 start to the year, manager Matt Williams is still trying to find a way to get veteran Jayson Werth going.
The 35-year-old Werth had surgery on Jan. 9 to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder. He missed Spring Training and wasn't activated off the disabled list until April 13. Since then, he'd played in 23 games, but had just a .186 batting average, one homer and nine RBIs, heading into Tuesday night's game against the D-backs.
Werth carried a .274 career average over 13 seasons into Tuesday's contest, and last year he batted .292 with 16 homers and 82 RBIs.
There are no excuses, Williams said, but there are certainly explanations for Werth's slow start.
"He was working all winter and then had to have surgery. That certainly shuts you down," Williams said. "And then he couldn't get [Spring Training] and tried to push toward the end and to the point where he could play. And he still wasn't right. So he's working through it during a regular season, which is never easy."
Williams said he and the coaches have been working early with Werth before batting practice, and have been trying to give him enough rest, "all the while trying to get him on the field every day."
"It's coming," Williams said. "His timing is getting better. And it'll start to roll here pretty soon. It's frustrating for anybody when you don't have [Spring Training]. There's no work time [in the regular season]. There's no getting three at-bats and then taking a day off and then getting back out there again. He just hasn't had that luxury.
"Even when he's not hitting, he does a lot for our club."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.