WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 06: Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals is helped off the field by manager Davey Johnson and assistant athletic trainer Mike McGowan after injuring his wrist in the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on May 6, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Phillies fans' attempt to once again take over Nationals Park were met with resistance this weekend, from the Washington Nationals, who took two of three from their divisional rivals, the Nationals fans, who turned out in numbers seen only once before for an early-season series and the Nats' front office, which designed a somewhat success marketing campaign around denying Philly-based fans access to the stadium and reclaiming the home field advantage in the nation's capital. The Phillies managed to salvage the series finale on Sunday night, taking a 9-3 decision from the Nats on national television and they got the entire baseball world's attention when veteran lefty Cole Hamels hit Bryce Harper with a purpose pitch in the 19-year-old's first at bat of the game.
Harper responded almost immediately, stealing home two at bats after he was hit to get the Nationals on the board early and make the pitcher pay for his two-out "lesson," and MLB responded on Monday, suspending the Phillies' starter for five days for hitting the Nats' rookie and (though the official ruling didn't say so) talking openly about it afterwards.
Though the Philadelphia fans' attempts to once again transform Nationals Park in Citizen's Bank South were about as successful as the Phillies were on the field, the Nats' neighbors to the north did accomplish one thing this weekend, officially making an enemy of former Phillies' outfielder Jayson Werth.
The 32-year-old right fielder, who signed a 7-year/$126M dollar deal with Washington in the winter of 2010, ending a four-year stint in the City of Brotherly Love, broke his left wrist on Sunday night on a sliding attempt at a catch of a Placido Polanco line drive. According to what the one-time fan-favorite in Philadelphia told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore yesterday, Philly fans' reaction to the injury apparently finally convinced him that any lingering attachment to his former home had been broken. In an article entitled, "Jayson Werth: I’m motivated by Phillies fans", the Nats' right fielder told the WaPost reporter via email that, "Phillies fans in right field at Nationals Park taunted him as he walked off the field Sunday night. And he will remember them during his rehab."
"'After walking off the field feeling nauseous knowing my wrist was broke and hearing Philly fans yelling ‘You deserve it,’ and, ‘That’s what you get,’ I am motivated to get back quickly and see to it personally those people never walk down Broad Street in celebration again.'"
Werth had previously stated (after he and Nats' GM Mike Rizzo were quoted in a Washington Post article in the Spring of 2011 expressing their feelings for the Phillies in comments that were later denied), that, "... he had no hard feelings against the team that allowed him to become a free agent last winter, repeatedly saying that it was just business." Before the injury Sunday night, Werth heard taunts from fans throughout the series with the usual, "You are Werth-less!" and "You sold out!" chants raining down on him from fans who'd purchased seats in the right field stands to be close enough to make sure the outfielder heard them. The taunts over the injury were apparently too much for the outfielder, however.
The Nationals last night sent out information on the successful surgery performed on the outfielder's left wrist to, "... repair a displaced left distal radius fracture." The team reported that Werth would begin rehab immediately with strengthening exercises to start, "... at the six-week mark when the fracture has healed, followed by progressive baseball activities." MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote yesterday the outfielder is expected to miss at least 12 weeks as he recovers. When he returns, he'll be more determined than before to help the Nationals unseat the five-time defending NL East division champions. If it wasn't personal for Werth before, it is now.