December 7, 2019

Washington Nationals recall Wilmer Difo, place Werth on DL

The Washington Nationals placed OF Jayson Werth on the 15-day DL with a left wrist “contusion” and recalled 2B/SS Wilmer Difo from Double-A Harrisburg for his Major League debut, thus starting the clock on Difo’s MLB service time.

Difo is clearly one of the Nats best hitting prospects. He was a fairly unheard of minor league player until last season when he exploded for Low-A Hagerstown, hitting .315/.360/.470 with 14 home runs, tripling his three-year minor league career total in one season, and 49 stolen bases.

So far this year, the 23-year-old hit .320/.386/.533 in 83 plate appearances for High-A Potomac, earning him a promotion to Harrisburg, where he slashed .308./339/.500 in 56 plate appearances over 14 games.

Difo’s bona fides are solid. He more than held his own in spring training with the big league club and has passed every test the Nats have thrown at him thus far. Plus, he’s a switch-hitter, which helps in late-innings matchups.

It’s just curious that with Werth going down, he’s the choice for the promotion. Werth is exclusively and outfielder — the team’s starting left fielder. That job will go to Michael Taylor for the time being. Difo is exclusively an infielder — 282 games at short, 94 at second and 13 at third in his six minor league seasons.

The Nats passed on OF Matt den Dekker, who is on the 40-man roster, to recall Difo, who along with Dan Uggla are backup infielders for the Nats now. This means, the team’s current backup outfielders become Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson, neither of whom should keep a glove in their lockers.

I suppose the theory is that between Taylor, Denard Span and Bryce Harper, there’s no need to keep a defensive outfielder on the bench, as all three are more than capable and would never be replaced defensively. Moore or Robinson could complete a game in the case of an injury and a move could be made to recall den Dekker or someone else should another outfielder go on the DL.

Still, at 23 you’d think the Nats would want Difo playing everyday somewhere, not sitting on the bench at the Major League level, available for pinch-running and pinch-hitting.

As for Werth, x-rays and MRIs didn’t reveal any fractures in his surgically repaired left wrist, so he must be experiencing a lot of soreness in the wrist after getting hit the other day. Hopefully that’s the case and a couple of weeks off for Werth allows the soreness and swelling to dissipate and he can get back into the lineup.

 

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

%d bloggers like this: