Aug 3, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth (28) reacts after striking out in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Heartbreakers: Jayson Werth
When Jayson Werth first joined the Nationals, and perhaps for several seasons after, he would have been the sort to make the list as a player to watch just because of what he could do on the field, because he was one of the best players on the Nationals.
Now, Werth is the player that needs to be watched to figure out what exactly he’s got left in the tank. His offseason hasn’t exactly been the most relaxing. Werth, who once said he could do “the hardest thing in the galaxy” (hit a baseball) couldn’t get out of jail time. He was labeled an “unlikeable” player by John Feinstein. And, to top it all off, there was the surgery.
The situation with Werth’s shoulder has evolved into a real “chicken or the egg” situation. Is the shoulder injury to blame for Werth’s lack of power, rather than age? Or, is the shoulder just the tip of the iceberg, the beginning of the end for a player who will soon be 36 and might not have the same abilities?
That’s a question that the Nationals likely won’t have an answer to until the season starts, and if his rehab takes longer than expected, it might not be until late April or even May. While the move to left field will take away a lot of the stress on Werth’s arm and body, in the long run, no one can beat Father Time, and Werth is no spring chicken.
It’s almost painful to put Werth, the first big name free agent that the Nationals really signed, on a list of players to watch simply because it might be the last chance to see him perform at anything close to a high level, but that’s just the nature of aging in sports. And I’ll be watching like the rest of you, and hoping Werth’s lack of power last year was an aberration and that he’s got at least one more great season left in him.