Jayson Werth heard the boos he’s grown used to in Citizens Bank Park when the one-time Phillies’ outfielder (2007-2010) stepped to the plate with one out in the top of the ninth inning in last night’s series finale.
Werth tipped his helmet to the crowd as he walked up, in what seemed like it might be a sarcastic reaction to/acknowledgement of the jeers, but the 38-year-old, veteran of 15 major league seasons told reporters after the game that it was actually a genuine gesture to the fans in Philadelphia, in what he came to think might be his final at bat in the City of Brotherly Love.
JW on the cap tip: "Regardless of what it sounds like, I feel like I was kind of made as a Phillie. Just paying my respects. Just in case."— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) September 28, 2017
Jayson Werth tipped cap in 9th tonight, admitted this could be his last game in Philly: "I was just paying my respects. Just in case."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) September 28, 2017
Werth struck out to end the night 1 for 5 with a walk and a two-run double, and he finished the series 2 for 13, leaving him 10 for 73 (.137 AVG) with four doubles and a home run in twenty games since he came off an extended stint on the Disabled List with a fractured bone in his foot.
In his weekly interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s The Sports Junkies on Wednesday, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked about what he’s seen from Werth since he came off the DL.
“Jayson was out for a long period of time himself, and being an older player it takes a little bit more time to get the body gelling and the body flowing,” Rizzo said.
“But I think that recently he has swung the bat much, much better,” he added.
“He’s a guy that’s going to take 4+ pitches per at bat, see a lot of pitches, and then like the night before yesterday, put the bat on the ball hard a couple times and had one hit to show for it, but swinging the bat pretty well.
“Some of these guys when the bell rings and the playoff bell rings they turn into different players, so I think Jayson is one of those guys.
“He’s so playoff savvy that he knows how to prepare for these games and like I told the guys, after Sunday, everyone is hitting .000 and the new season begins and it’s time to put the regular season behind us and focus in on the Cubs and a five-game series, so that’s that mindset that we have to have and we’re going to be mentally prepared and physically prepared and ready to take on the Cubs.”
Dusty Baker was asked last night if it was encouraging to see Werth make solid contact and put together some good at bats.
“Yeah,” Baker said, “and also it was encouraging — [Daniel] Murphy had some good at bats, he hadn’t been back in there in a while and also Trea [Turner] had some good at bats, so we had some good signs. [Bryce Harper] made a couple good plays out there, and like I said, the more pitches he sees the sharper he’ll get.”
Will Werth step up in the postseason give the Nationals what they need at the plate and in left field?
Does the fact that Howie Kendrick, after putting up impressive numbers over his first month with the Nats (.340/.376/.596, five doubles, five home runs in 101 PAs between July 29th-August 30th), has slowed in September (with a .227/.301/.348 line, two doubles, two home runs in 73 PAs) make it easier to justify giving Werth the opportunity to start in left field in the postseason?
Will Baker keep Kendrick and Adam Lind on the bench and go with veterans like Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, trusting that they will step up when the postseason bell rings?
Will what looks like it will be Werth’s final run in the nation’s capital end in another loss in the NLDS, or, will he and his teammates take the next step and do something special in his fourth postseason run in seven seasons in D.C.?