Jayson Werth Press Conference
In case you missed Jayson Werth’s introductory press conference, which aired live on MASN at 1 p.m. today, you can catch the official statements and select questions from the media here. You will see, surprisingly, the press conference progressed several minutes before Cliff Lee’s name was first mentioned. Continue reading to find out how Werth responded to the elephant in the room and hear thoughts on his new contract.
Mike Rizzo statement: It’s my honor to express the happiness and the joy of the Washington Nationals organization with the acquisition of such a fine player, a fine person and a great person in the community as Jayson Werth. He was a player that our front office and ownership identified early in the process as an impact, elite-type of free agent that we would like to acquire that would help us, not only in the short term, but in the long term, not only between the lines, but in the clubhouse and in the community. So without further adieu, it is my great honor to introduce the newest member of the Washington Nationals family, Jayson Werth
Jayson Werth statement: On behalf of my family and myself, I would like to take this time to thank the Washington Nationals organization and the Lerner family. We’re excited to be here. We’re on board for many winning seasons ahead. That’s one thing I think the fans can look forward to, is a winning-caliber type of baseball in Washington, on the field and off the field going forward. Thank you.
This is a team that hasn’t done well the last three years. What intrigued you about Washington and how do you expect to help this team go into a winning season?
Baseball is a funny thing. It has its ups and downs, as many teams have had in the past. One thing I saw with the Nationals team over the past few seasons of playing against them is just a grittiness that they have, and a will to win. Although they had some rough seasons the past few years, they have some talent. It’s very young and unpolished. That’s one thing I look forward to helping along the way. I’ve always been a big fan of the underdog and I think the situation here in Washington is one that, going forward, we’re going to put something together that the city and the fans will come accustomed to love and come out and see us on a nightly basis.
Matt Stairs is a young 42 years old. Do you envision being able to play baseball, you signed a seven-year contract, into your 40’s and so forth?
Of course, in my career, I’ve played with some guys that played into their 40’s and older guys. I’ve seen what it takes to keep yourself in shape, the things that need to go on on a daily basis to ensure that your body makes it. I think that was one thing that the Lerner family was on board with was taking care of yourself and the things that need to happen in the clubhouse and the things that players are going to need. But my grandfather played 19 years in the Big Leagues. My uncle played a long time. I feel like I’m really young in the game. I feel like I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me. I have no problem seeing myself, maybe not play as long as Jamie Moyer has, but definitely into my 40’s.
Do you feel any added pressure signing such a long contract, such an expensive contract, one of the richest in baseball history?
Anytime you go on the field and you play for a team, there’s going to be pressure. I’m coming to this team and this city to be involved in something much greater than you’ve seen here before, I think. The owners are on board, Mike’s on board, Jim’s on board, we’re all going in the same direction. I don’t foresee any undue pressure. I’m going to go out and play my game and come to the field every day ready to play. I look forward to going to war with the guys that are in the clubhouse and getting the job done.
With the Phillies you were part of a star-studded lineup. How comfortable are you with the idea of having more of a weight on your shoulders now, both on the field and off?
I look forward to it. I’ve been playing this game a long time. I’ve played in World Series, I’ve played in postseasons. The thing about baseball is you play it day in, you play it day out–162-game schedule, a lot of things get overlooked. The one thing I can control is the level of intensity and just the overall willingness to play the game on a day in, day out basis. I look forward to playing with these guys. We’ve got a talented group, like I said. Just a little polish here and a little polish there and I think we’re going to be good.
Have you talked to Ryan Zimmerman yet? If not, what have been your impressions of him, playing against him the last couple of years?
He’s a great player–All-Star, Gold Glover–I think the people who’ve seen Ryan Zimmerman play know the type of player he is and the caliber he brings to the field. I have talked to him. I’ve known him before I came here so I think he’s excited. I know I’m excited to play with a guy like that. There are guys coming with a lot of talent as well, so it’s going to be good. I keep reiterating that but I do feel strongly about the talent that’s on this club.
You hit the cover off the ball last season. Are you excited to come make this your home in terms of the ballpark?
I am. I’ve always said this is a great place to hit. I love hitting here; I think the numbers have shown that. It’s a good division to hit in. I’m glad I’m staying the in the NL East–I know the parks, I know the teams, I know the pitchers. It’s a good situation for me and my family as well.
What is important to you as far as being a leader in the clubhouse?
The things that are important to me in the clubhouse are things that I’ll keep to myself and I’ll share with my teammates. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag too early.
What do you think the timetable is, realistically, for this team becoming a contender?
The thing about this team is I think there are some pieces of the puzzle that could be put together and make this team a winner. I was ensured by the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo that they’re going to take the steps needed to go get those players and to fill the roster accordingly, not with just anybody, but with the right, talented guy and the right mix, the person that will make the clubhouse a complete place. That was important to me and that was one of the things that led me to sign here–that they’re on board for winning. They’re a winning family. It’s a true success story–Mr. Lerner shared with me his life that he’s had and I foresee them taking the proper steps and getting the guys that are really going to help this club get to the next level.
What was the one thing the Nationals really sold you on, that really drove the deal home, and secondly, do you have any reaction to what’s going on in Philadelphia this week with Cliff Lee coming back?
I missed that in Philly. What happened?
I’m sorry. What was your first question? All right, well obviously, this is my first chance at getting free agency. I worked so hard over the years, went through so much, a bad wrist injury that went misdiagnosed for a couple seasons, and I missed an entire season due to that. So when you get to free agency, you have the chance to do something special for yourself and for your family. There are a lot of things that go into it, but obviously the years were important to me. I have the chance to come to a city, guaranteed to be here for a long time. The no-trade [clause] was a big deal for me. I have chance to set myself and my family up for years to come here and just have more of a solid base. One thing people don’t realize is, from season to season, if you do have a family and kids, it’s really tough to have normalcy. That was one thing I was able to obtain here. The length of contract was very important. A million things go into it, honestly, but the one thing I think that was very important was the length and the willingness of the owners to win. That was something else that really drew me to Washington. And of course the team, I think the team is going forward. They’re going to be really good–to have the talent that they have in the Minor Leagues and the Draft, the steps they’ve taken the last few years to really set up the core of the organization from the bottom up. I think it’s a really good situation for me, I think it’s a good situation for the team and I’m excited to be here.
Did the opportunity to play down the road with Harper and Strasburg play into your decision?
Again, the young talent in this organization is immense. With the length of the contract that I got, I felt good about the chances of this organization winning over the course of my contract. That was very important to me because I’ve been to the postseason a lot the last few years and that’s what it’s all about. That’s what we play for, that’s what you work out all winter for, that’s what you get to Spring Training early for. I hate to lose, so I’m here to win and that’s for sure.
Last night at the Wizards game, did you get a chance to speak to any of the other athletes from the D.C. about what it’s like to play in the city?
I haven’t, but the last few years I’ve played here and I’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going on here. I know it’s a big sports town. You look at the Caps, their fans. They’re doing pretty good on filling the seats. I think if you put the product on the field, and you win the ballgames, the fans are going to support it and show up. I think that was evident in Philadelphia when I went there. I got there in ’07 and you see the type of place it is now, after we won there. So you win the games, you put the product on the field, and the fans want to come see you. I think it’s going to be an exciting time for the city and the organization and definitely for the players, to play the games with the seats filled.
You’ve not only been a late bloomer, you’ve continued to bloom over the last two or three years and a lot of your stats have gotten better. Why is that? Just seeing more pitches?
I’ve been saying for a long time, the more I play, the better I’m going to get. I think that’s been pretty evident. I think seeing pitches is an important part of the game, wearing the opposing team’s pitchers down, getting to the bullpen early. The more pitches you see, the more apt you are to pick the ball up better. As time goes on, I think it makes you a better player. So it’s definitely a part of my game that I’m looking to extend throughout the clubhouse and the team and an approach that we can work on.
You said all summer and into the fall that the Phillies can do anything they want, and Scott [Boras] backed you up, in terms of money. I know you just joked about nothing happening in Philadelphia, but because of what happened in Philadelphia this week, do you feel vindicated at all because of the money that was thrown out, and maybe bitter at all in terms that they did have all that money?
I’ve definitely moved on the past few months here and I’m excited about being a National. Obviously the news in Philadelphia is that they got their boy back, I guess. That’s fine. I think that’s good. I like that. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. They make their plays and we’ll make ours. Over the course of time, you’re going to see and the people of the city are going to see that the Washington Nationals are for real and they’re going to bring the type of baseball that is going to bring championships to the city.