Updated at 12:01 a.m.
Jayson Werth broke his left wrist trying to make a sliding catch in right field during the sixth inning of tonight's nationally televised game, a major blow to a Nationals club already reeling from the loss of several key players.
Werth charged in hard from his position trying to catch Placido Polanco's sinking liner and nearly made the play. But his glove hand got twisted up badly in the process, his wrist bending backward.
Werth was barely able to get to his feet and throw the ball back toward the infield, then collapsed in the heap on the ground as a trainer and manager Davey Johnson raced from the dugout to check on him. He walked off the field under his own power but was carefully holding his left wrist and arm in place.
Johnson said Werth will miss at least six weeks, but a formal timetable for his return won't be known until he is examined by a specialist on Monday. That examination will determine whether he suffered any more damage to the wrist, particularly any ligaments, which could prolong his recovery by a significant amount.
With Werth out for the foreseeable future, the Nationals will have yet another key position to attempt to fill. They've been without left fielder and cleanup man Michael Morse since Opening Day due to a lat muscle injury that will sideline Morse for at least another month. They've also been without third baseman and No. 3 hitter Ryan Zimmerman for the last two weeks due to right shoulder inflammation. And they've been without first baseman Adam LaRoche the last four days due to a sore oblique muscle.
"All of a sudden, we seem to be getting healthy, and then, bam!" Johnson said. "We dealt with it before. We'll deal with it again."
Zimmerman and LaRoche are both expected to return Tuesday for the start of the Nationals' series in Pittsburgh, so that will help compensate some for the anticipated loss of Werth.
The Nationals, though, will have to find a suitable replacement in right field, with rookie Bryce Harper likely to shift from left field. Johnson said he'll probably use a combination of Roger Bernadina and Xavier Nady in left field.
Werth, in the second year of a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Nationals, is no stranger to left wrist injuries. His career nearly ended in 2006 due to a ligament that split in half, though Johnson said this break occurred to the opposite side of Werth's wrist.