WASHINGTON -- Nationals everyday shortstop Ian Desmond was back in the starting lineup after a five-game hiatus due to a left oblique strain that has been nagging him since before the All-Star break.
After playing every inning since April 19, Desmond first sat out on July 15 in Miami. Friday was his first start since that day -- he was batting sixth, in his regular spot in the lineup -- but he made two plate appearances off the bench in the last three games.
Desmond was selected to his first career All-Star Game this year, but missed it due to the injury. In this breakout season, Desmond entered Friday night leading all Major League shortstops in home runs (17), RBIs (52) and slugging percentage (.513).
"Obviously, when you play this sport, any time you can get rest, you take advantage of it," Desmond said.
It could be an injury that nags Desmond the rest of the season, but manager Davey Johnson hopes that the way he dealt with it leading up to the All-Star break will help him battle through it the rest of the year.
"Now I can tell everybody I rested him, when he plays the last 70-72 games," Johnson joked.
Werth's first rehab game pushed back a day
WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth was scratched from what was going to be his first rehab outing with Class A Potomac on Friday night, largely because of inclement weather in the area and also because of some stiffness from his first swings in nearly 2 1/2 months.
Werth was originally hitting third in the Potomac Nationals' lineup on Friday night -- along with Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy -- but was still at Nationals Park around 4 p.m.
"The weather, and he was a little stiff but his doctor said that's to be expected," manager Davey Johnson said. "That's a good sign. He said he pushed it to the point where it got a little stiff, and said once you get that, you're good to go. He said he heated it up in here and after a few exercises, he felt great.
"So he's going tomorrow. No biggie."
Werth, who broke his left wrist diving for a ball on May 6 in Philadelphia, took batting practice for the first time earlier this week and seemed to be ahead of schedule. But his targeted return date of the first week in August will likely remain the same, with the outfielder taking a more extended approach in his rehabilitation to fully regain his timing before he joins the first-place Nats.
Werth hit 20 home runs and drove in 58 while batting .232 in a disappointing 2011 campaign in his debut with Washington last season.
Former Nats closer Cordero throws first pitch
WASHINGTON -- Instead of throwing the last pitch, as he's accustomed to doing in a Nationals uniform, Chad Cordero was at the park Friday to throw out the first one.
The former closer, who was with the organization in Montreal from 2003-04 and Washington from 2005-08 before his career ended with the Mariners in 2010, holds the franchise record for saves in a season (47 in 2005).
"It's just kind of weird putting on a Nationals jersey in general, but it's cool to be back here and doing it," Cordero said. "I never thought I'd be able to come back here and throw out the first pitch."
Cordero made just six appearances in the 2008 season because of a shoulder injury that essentially ended his career. He signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners in 2010, but he made nine appearances before retiring officially the following year.
At 30, he said the time away from the game has him itching to get back.
"I want to go out there and play again," Cordero said, adding that he'll try to play winter ball this year. "It's still real hard to watch baseball, but I still do, because I'm a fan of the game. But I want to get out there and throw again."
He threw out the first pitch Friday to reliever Drew Storen, who last year came within four saves of tying Cordero's season saves record.
"I took a huge sigh of relief [when Storen didn't get it]," Cordero joked. "But I think he'll get it one day, whether it's next year or the year after. I think he'll definitely get my 47 saves here, and it'll be a sad day when he does. But at the same time, it'll be really cool."
Cordero, an All-Star in 2005 when the Nationals moved back to Washington, looked back fondly on that first season in D.C., but he said this year's squad has the opportunity to take it one step further.
"Hopefully this is the year the town of D.C. gets to see a playoff here," Cordero said. "We tried to give it to them that first year. That first year was magical. Coming from Montreal, playing at RFK Stadium, being in a city that hadn't had baseball in about 30 years. We played very well, but unfortunately took a dive in the second half.
"But this team, I don't think they're going to do that. They have the pitching staff to go out there and make it all the way to the World Series."