Werth shares his thoughts
In the middle of a jam-packed morning that included meetings with Nationals top executives and a photo shoot, Jayson Werth sat down to answer a few questions for us. Here’s what he had to say about the D.C. area and the upcoming season:
Nationals: Welcome to D.C. How is D.C. treating you so far? Last night you went to the Wizards-Lakers game. They showed you on the Big Screen. What was that like?
JW: Fortunately for me, I come from a town similar to this one that’s a good sports town. The fans are very knowledgeable and they’re very supportive of their guys and last night was evidence of that. Washington is known as a good sports town, their fans are very knowledgeable and they gave me a good ovation.
Tell me about your approach to the plate. You see a lot of pitches.
I think that’s one thing that’s very important that gets overlooked in the game. You work a pitcher, you see a lot of pitches, you get a whole lineup to do that, more often than not, you’re going to be into the bullpen early. Especially in the three- and four-game series where you’re playing these teams, you see the guys in the bullpen more, you can get that 6th inning guy, that 7th inning guy. You do that more often than not, you’re going to get yourself in good situations. You’re going to be on base, and once you’re on base, you can score runs. It’s definitely a part of the game that I think is a big part. It’s something I like to talk about and hopefully, we can get everybody on board with that.
Another big part of your game is your defensive ability. You can play any outfield position. Tell me how you developed that.
I came up in the Minor Leagues as a catcher, then I moved to the outfield. When I got to the outfield, I hadn’t really played a whole lot of it. I wanted to get a feel for it, so I played all the positions and it came natural to me, fortunately. I think I started in left field, moved to right field, and played a little center field. Pretty soon, I’m in the Big Leagues and playing all three. Defense in the outfield is another part of the game that the fundamentals of it are not taught at a younger age. Cutting off the balls in the gap, keeping guys with singles, not letting runners score from second, charging the ball–there are a lot of things, fundamentally, that can be done out there that the average fan probably doesn’t see.
Coming up as a catcher, where you have to pay so much more attention to the details, where you are calling the game and you also have a part in how the defense is lined up, does having that insight as a catcher help you at all in the field?
No. It’s kind of two different animals. There is not a whole lot going on in the outfield. When you’re catching, pretty much every pitch you’ve got something to think about. Not that you don’t in the outfield, but you pretty much position yourself at the start of the at bat, and as the bat goes on, you move around a little bit, but there’s definitely a lot less going on in the outfield than there is behind the plate.
How important to your game is having a presence on the base paths?
Actually, I see it getting better. I was fortunate enough to work with Davey Lopes in Philadelphia. Davey, like myself, has moved on, so hopefully, that will be an advantage for us. One thing he taught is smart base running. If you look back the last few years, Philadelphia led all of baseball in stolen base percentage. I think we set a record there one year–maybe ’08 or ’07. The one thing he taught is, you want to run with a purpose. You want to run to be safe. You’re not just out there running to run. If you can get in scoring position, take advantage of the other team and you can score more runs. That’s the name of the game. That’s one thing I would like to adopt here–aggressive style of base running, going first to third, stealing bases but being safe. It’s definitely a big part of the game.
You saw a lot of the Nationals over the last couple of years. What did you see from the other side of the diamond? Who are some players you’re looking forward to playing with?
One thing about the Nationals the last few years is they’re a great team. Inexperienced in a sense, young, but after you have a few years of playing under your belt, if you have the talent, which I believe this team does have, that bodes well. Obviously guys like Ryan Zimmerman–he’s a cornerstone third baseman, he’s the face of the franchise, he’s a quality player, everybody knows that. But you’ve got guys like Ian Desmond. I think he’s got a lot of talent and he’s got a chance to be a really good player in the Big Leagues. With the staff, like John Lannan, and of course, Stephen Strasburg is coming, we’ve got a lot of talent, young talent. The more you play, the more experience you get, the better you’re going to be, especially with a team like this.
Do you look forward to being able to share your baseball knowledge with some of the other, younger guys?
These guys are all professionals. They are good baseball players. We are going to work well together, coming from a place that had a lot of talent and has been in the postseason the last few years, anything that I can share, my experiences, my knowledge of the game. All in all, I think it’s about showing up here every day, playing hard, working hard, playing the game the right way, and winning ballgames. I don’t see this team too far off from that.
What can Nationals fans expect from Jayson Werth?
Hopefully a lot. I’m coming to play every day. I love the game of baseball. I’ve been playing it my whole life. I found a home here in Washington. I’m excited about the opportunity. We’ve got great owners. We’ve got a great opportunity. I plan on being one of the guys that’s out there every day leading the charge. My goal is to win as many World Series as possible and I plan on doing it.