Johnson impressed by Werth in BP session

Johnson impressed by Werth in BP session

WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth's first swings in nearly 2 1/2 months went so well on Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park that manager Davey Johnson said the outfielder could embark on a rehab assignment with a Nationals Minor League affiliate as soon as Thursday.

Johnson said he was "really pleasantly surprised" with Werth, who broke his left wrist diving for a ball on May 6 in Philadelphia. The outfielder was seen taking early batting practice, joined by slugger Chad Tracy, and the pair were watched by Johnson, general manager Mike Rizzo and hitting coach Rick Eckstein.

"I didn't think he'd be hitting for another week, and it seemed like he didn't feel any discomfort," Johnson said.

The Nationals have been targeting a return date of the first week in August and, though Werth seems to be ahead of schedule, that timetable will likely remain in place. Because it's been so long since the outfielder played in a game, Johnson said he wants to take a more extended approach in Werth's rehabilitation to fully regain his timing before he joins the first-place Nats.

"He's feeling like he's been down so long, I think over two months, that the rest of his body is going to need the time as much as his timing and stuff," Johnson said. "He's really been out. It's like he's had the winter off. He's been able to do a few things, but not a lot of catching the ball, not a whole lot of running around trying to catch it."

Werth was hitting .276 with three homers and 12 RBIs at the time of the injury.