Werth wins fans over after intial boos

Jayson Werth turned jeers into cheers with a simple tip of his

helmet.

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

in.

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.

Boo!”

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

1980.

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

Manuel.”