During the first inning of Sunday’s 12-0 victory over the New York Mets, the Washington Nationals belted three home runs off of one of the Mets’ top pitching prospects, Matt Harvey. Of the trio of home runs, Jayson Werth‘s reportedly left the stadium beyond the left field wall and hit his own truck.
Yup, you read that right. According to Werth himself, the ball dented the fender of his white pickup truck. Presumably this was not a direct shot, as I’ve seen reports that the truck was approximated to be roughly 492 feet from home plate and there’s nothing to indicate that Werth has the kind of power to have hit it in the air. But this can surely be taken as a good sign.
By all accounts, including that of Mark Zuckerman, Werth is seemingly a different person this Spring. He’s more comfortable in his surroundings, so to speak. This change is ultimately part of Davey Johnson’s bigger plan to give Werth a little more continuity each day. He wants his right fielder to be able to focus on his game without have to worry about making too many adjustments. Johnson has told Werth he’s the team’s right fielder, which seems to indicate that the long-discussed idea of having him spend some time in center field may have been pushed to the back burner. Johnson’s argument suggests he believes that Werth will subsequently hit better if he has to worry less about where he’s playing, a side effect, if you will, of that provided continuity.
All along that is the basis of my argument against moving Werth to center field. That, and I don’t think he has the range to handle the position. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s capable of being a Gold Glove caliber outfielder, just not in center field. But defense wasn’t really the problem last season.
After signing a seven year, $126 Million contract prior to the 2011 season, Werth went on to have a downright disappointing campaign. He batted just .232/.330/.389 with 20 HR and 58 RBI, making 649 plate appearances over 150 games. He also struck out a career high 160 times. I’ve said in jest (repeatedly) that Werth couldn’t possibly have a worse season heading into Year 2 of his long term contract. It’s nice to see that things are at least looking positive for Werth with Opening Day around the corner.