WASHINGTON— As Bryce Harper misses baseball while on the disabled list, many of his Nationals teammates are getting close to being healthy again.
Even with Harper still out with a bone bruise in his left knee and no timetable for his return, the Nationals are about to get some reinforcements. Stephen Strasburg is back on the mound, ace Max Scherzer could return from a neck injury as soon as Sunday and shortstop Trea Turner and outfielder Jayson Werth aren’t too far behind.
Scherzer threw a bullpen session Saturday and would be in line to pitch the night game in Washington’s doubleheader with the New York Mets on Sunday. Manager Dusty Baker said Scherzer, who last pitched Aug. 13, was “very close.”
The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is 12-5 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 starts this season. The Nationals hope to have Scherzer headlining a playoff rotation that includes left-hander Gio Gonzalez and Strasburg, who has allowed two earned runs on seven hits over 12 innings in two starts since returning from a right elbow injury.
Werth, who has been out since early June with a bruised left foot, continues to play minor league rehab games and said he feels good. The 38-year-old hopes being out for so long makes him fresher in the fall.
“There’s definitely some silver lining to this whole thing,” Werth said. “I’m just fortunate enough that I should have enough games under my belt to be ready for a push in October and help the team in any way that I can. … I’ll hopefully be a big part of this thing.”
So should Turner, who broke his right wrist in late June and is on a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac. Turner was at Nationals Park on Saturday to talk to Baker and get treatment before getting back to playing.
“He’s looking good and doing good,” Werth said of Turner. “He hasn’t been out that long. With wrist injuries, the last thing to come is strength. So as he gets stronger and as time goes on, I’ll think he’ll get better and he’ll be OK.”
The Nationals got a scare with a triceps injury to first baseman Ryan Zimmerman from sliding headfirst into home plate on Thursday in Houston. Zimmerman is out for now, but Baker is optimistic the 32-year-old won’t be out long.
“He couldn’t swing (Friday) at least it wasn’t advisable for him to swing,” Baker said. “With the doubleheader (Sunday), we certainly need him in one of those games, so I thought the best move is not to play him today and then he’ll be ready for one of those games tomorrow.”
The Nationals have a double-digit lead in the NL East despite a season full of injuries. As a baseball lifer, Baker is concerned about so many injuries around the majors nowadays.
“It’s definitely a problem,” Baker said. “It’s a problem when you lose your big boys. It’s a problem for your team on the field, for the fans that are paying to see them, it’s a problem for TV, it’s a problem for us all.
“We’re in the entertainment business. I don’t know what it is, they’re supposed to be bigger and stronger than they were before, but they get hurt more. So something’s not right.”