Werth wins fans over after intial boos
Jayson Werth turned jeers into cheers with a simple tip of his
Back in Philadelphia for the first time since leaving for
Washington, Werth was mostly booed when he came to the plate in the
first inning Tuesday night, though there was some applause mixed
Werth, standing outside the batter’s box, then took off his
helmet and tipped it to the fans. That won ’em over. The crowd gave
him a standing ovation. Werth drew a walk from Cole Hamels and
stole second base.
When Werth ran out to right field in the bottom of the first,
the fans behind him cheered. He took off his cap and again
acknowledged the crowd, drawing a roar of approval.
”I’m looking forward to it. Obviously, it’s going to be
interesting,” Werth said before the game at Citizens Bank Park.
”I know a little about Philly fans and their makeup. There were
some good times. I’m proud to be a member of the 2008 World Series
champions. There’s been a lot of emotions in this stadium, with
this team, some unbelievable moments I’ll always remember. I hope
the fans remember the good times.”
Some didn’t. One large banned in right field read: ”Werth-less
you bad-mouthed the Phillies. Now we’re bad-mouthing you.
Werth signed a $126 million, seven-year deal with the Nationals
last winter. He spent four seasons in Philadelphia and developed
into an All-Star outfielder after nearly giving up on baseball
because of a wrist injury.
Werth was booed loudly by a large contingent of Phillies fans
who made the trip to Washington when the teams met early in the
season. He was a popular player during his time in Philadelphia,
and spoke fondly of the fans.
”It’s really something special here,” he said. ”I look
forward to playing here tonight and for the rest of my career for
better or worse. There’s no place like it.”
Werth is off to a slow start with the Nationals. He entered the
game batting just .233 with four homers and seven RBIs. Werth hit
.268 with 36 homers and 99 RBIs in 2009 and followed that up with a
.296 average, 27 homers and 85 RBIs last year.
”I see the same guy,” Nats manager Jim Riggleman said. ”It’s
a pleasure to manage him. I don’t see anything in his actions that
implicates he’s under pressure.”
Werth, a first-round pick by Baltimore in 1997, began his career
with Toronto in 2002. He played a total of 41 games with the Blue
Jays in two seasons and then spent two years with the Los Angeles
Dodgers. At one point, his career was in jeopardy because of a
unique wrist injury that forced him to miss the 2006 season.
He came back, signed a one-year deal with the Phillies and
played well in a part-time role in 2007. Werth platooned with Geoff
Jenkins for most of ’08 until taking over every day down the
stretch and helping the Phillies win their first championship since
Werth is tied for ninth on the all-time list for postseason
homers with 13. He credited Phillies manager Charlie Manuel for
helping him become a successful hitter.
”Charlie played a big role in my career,” he said. ”When I
got to Philly, I don’t think I was in Charlie’s better graces. But
as time went on I became one of Charlie’s guys. He’s like a father
figure to me. I respect him wholeheartedly. I’ll always remember
what he did for me and my career. He’s the best. I love Charlie