8/17/2014 12:42 A.M. ET
Taylor key in Nats' rally after getting break from lineup
By Daniel Popper / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- After starting four straight games this past week while outfielders Jayson Werth, Nate McLouth and Steven Souza Jr. all nursed shoulder injuries, Nationals prospect Michael Taylor was out of the starting lineup on Saturday. Bryce Harper moved to right field while utility man Kevin Frandsen started in left for the fourth time this month.
Taylor still saw action on Saturday night as pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth, when he led off the frame with a walk. The at-bat proved crucial, as Taylor came around to score the Nationals' first run of a three-run eighth in an eventual 4-3 walk-off victory over the Pirates at Nationals Park.
"He was patient," manager Matt Williams said after the game. "Fouled off a couple fastballs that he was right on, and was patient enough to get that walk for us to start it off."
Taylor -- who the Nats called up from Triple-A Syracuse last Sunday just four games after his promotion from Double-A Harrisburg -- went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in his memorable debut at Citi Field on Tuesday. But in the three contests following, including the final two against the Mets and the series opener against the Pirates, Taylor went 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts.
"I feel like I've been getting myself out," Taylor said. "Swinging at a couple [bad] pitches, expanding the zone, and taking good pitches to hit. I think I just have to get back to what I know how to do and just try to stay comfortable."
Given Taylor's sudden turn, Williams opted to give the 23-year-old an opportunity to catch his breath after the most exciting week of his young career.
"I've seen him, over the last couple of days, take some fastballs that he normally doesn't take," Williams said before Saturday's game. "For all the time that I struggled, I understand [when] you just think too much, and you're thinking about, 'Well, this guy's got a curveball,' or, 'He's got a slider.' … The secret to his success is going to be hitting the fastball. That's what he does. It's not easy for a guy coming out of Double-A to step into the big leagues and do it on a consistent basis. So if we get a chance to get him a day [off] and regroup, then it's important that we do that."
Werth's shoulder 'tender' after full workout
WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth went through a full workout on Saturday -- including running, throwing and batting practice in the cage -- as part of his continued effort to return from a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder.
But after Saturday night's walk-off victory over the Pirates, manager Matt Williams said Werth felt some discomfort as a result of the extensive baseball activity.
"It was a little tender," Williams said. "He'll get through tonight and see how he feels when he wakes up."
The right fielder didn't play for the fifth straight game on Saturday due to the injury. Williams originally eyed Sunday as a likely return for Werth, largely because the 5:05 p.m. ET start gives the right-handed slugger some extra time to rest his shoulder. However, Saturday's setback could force Werth to take another day off to ensure he's healthy enough to return.
"He's going to do [the workout] again tomorrow early and see how he feels," Williams said. "If we have to take another day after today, we may have to do that."
Once Werth does return, Williams said the AC joint sprain shouldn't be a long-term concern, barring any freak accidents in the outfield.
"Unless he bangs it again, unless he does something to irritate it again, I don't anticipate it would be something that would cost him games," Williams said. "But you never know. If he dives, or if he goes into a wall or something, it could jar that joint a little bit. But I think it's calmed down pretty well.
• Danny Espinosa got the start at second base on Saturday against Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke. The switch-hitter was batting .299 with an .877 OPS from the right side of the plate entering the contest.
"We want to make sure that we're continuing to get as many guys as many reps as possible, because it's going to be important over the long haul," Williams said.
Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.