Werth opens up on state of Nationals: “We are still in a building phase”

Right fielder Jayson Werth did all he could to keep the Nationals in their 6-3 loss to the Braves on Wednesday.

He hit a game tying two-run shot, which was the first hit for the Nationals against Kris Medlen.

He singled and scored the tying run three innings later.

He walked in the rally attempt down three in the bottom of the ninth.

But it was not meant to be and, in the end, Werth was sitting at his locker contemplating what a three-game sweep at the hands of the first-place Braves means for the Nationals with less than 50 games remaining on the schedule.

“It definitely makes it tougher,” Werth said. “It is getting to the point where we are just not winning games. You hate to accept losing at any point, but the losses are definitely piling up.

“You play games every day. Once the game is over you go home and erase that one and wake up the next day you got a ball game to play. The record and the standings, that stuff is kind of easy to put aside because we play so many games and we play every day.

“So, really at the end of the season or when you get to the point you are eliminated that is really when it kind of hits home, but we are not there yet.”

The Braves came in and took care of business with timely hits, right place right time defense and solid pitching all around. Werth was impressed by what the Braves had done since opening day to build such a big lead in the N.L. East.

“Atlanta, they are playing really good right now, obviously,” Werth said. “I think the whole year they have played really well. They have really proven themselves of being a championship caliber team. Kind off where they started at the beginning of the season with some of the unknowns, they got new guys and the whole thing.

“They are playing really well. You got to give it to them. They are good club and they have got good players. They are going to be tough to beat.”

But the 10th loss in 13 games to the Braves this season is a sobering reality that made Werth think back to the day he decided to first become a Washington National and what that meant to him at the time.

“As far as where we are at and where we are going, I read something the other day, found some notes,” Werth said. “It was before I signed here. I was reading over the stuff for the Nats, one of the things it said was they would be, we would be good towards the end of my contract.

“So it kind of put things in perspective with the success last year and really where we are at now with the guys. We are still in a building phase. I know with all the expectations it doesn’t really seem like that. We got a lot of young players. The direction is still good. We got a lot of talent. There is a lot of things to look forward to here in Washington.”

Werth sounded a bit like he was resigned that this season was not going to work out for the Nationals. They have lost 60 times through 114 games. They lost only 64 games all of last season in winning their first ever N.L. East crown.

But he then said that he has not given up on this season and never would as long as he was on the lineup card.

“It is not over,” Werth said. “Like I said, we are not there yet. Even when you get to that point, you are not going to give up. As long as there is a pitcher on the mound and I am in the lineup I am going to give it the best effort. Right now it is not lining up for us.”

It was an honest and complete assessment of where the Nationals’ hottest hitter was at right now with the team 15 ½ games back in the division race.

Werth acknowledged that this team has the building blocks to compete for years to come but maybe success in 2012 masked a bit the work that still needs to be done to become that “championship caliber” team season after season.

The Nationals still have 48 games left to continue to add to that foundation.

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