Will Werth play in D.C. into his 40s?

Greetings from the spectacular Pacific Northwest, I am writing to you from Corvallis, Ore., on the campus of Oregon State University. I am here with George Washington basketball for a game tonight.

(By the way, who are the most famous major league baseball players from Oregon? My picks are Harold Reynolds, Dale Murphy, Aaron Rowand, Wally Backman and Larry Andersen. Do you have a few?)

But I am always thinking Nationals baseball and have contemplated the long-term impact Jayson Werth in Washington. Werth signed a seven-year deal with the Nats this month and says he expects to play into his 40s. He is only 31, and Werth feels there is a lot of good baseball still to come.

I got a chance to welcome Jayson and his wife Julia to the Lexus Presidents Club prior to last week’s media press conference. The team presented Julia with a “Nats 1” jersey and they already had the Werth No. 28 jersey prominently displayed in the Nationals team store. They couldn’t be more gracious, with Jayson answering questions about his arrival in D.C. Jayson and Julia then mingled in the crowd and signed autographs before moving over to the interview room.

During the news conference, I compared Werth’s contract life to newly signed first baseman/outfielder Matt Stairs, who is 42, and whether Werth felt he would be able to play into his 40s. Werth believes he can.

“Over the course of my career, I have played with some guys who played into their 40s and older guys,” Werth said. “I have seen what it takes to keep yourself in shape things that need to go on on a daily basis ensure that your body makes it.

“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 things the players are going to need,” Werth continued.

“My grandfather played 19 years in the big leagues, my uncle played a long time. I feel like I am really young in the game. I feel like I have a lot of years ahead of me. I have no problem seeing myself (play a long time), maybe not as long as Jamie Moyer, has but definitely into my 40s.”

According to baseball-reference.com, Werth’s grandfather, Dick “Ducky” Schofield, played in the major leagues for 19 years. His uncle, Dick Schofield, played 14 years. His stepfather, Dennis Werth, played four years.

The contract Jayson Werth signed raised a lot of eyebrows around baseball when it was announced in early December, but if Werth is correct in his belief he can play well into his 40s, the impact of the deal will be a crucial investment for the Nats as they look to become competitive and challenge for the post season the next few seasons.

Hear the Werth news conference, my interview with Mark Lerner and the Mike Rizzo conference call on nationals360.com and at 2:00 p.m. Sunday on Federal News Radio, 1500 AM.

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