VIERA, Fla. - Jayson Werth reported to camp on Tuesday. He took his physical yesterday. But today, reporters finally crossed paths with Werth for the first time since he arrived in Florida for the start of camp.
Werth took part in today’s first full-squad workout, getting in some defensive work and taking some batting practice on the back fields. He then chatted with reporters for nearly 20 minutes, covering a host of topics.
On whether not having the “World Series or Bust” expectations this year will help: “You would hope. You hope that everybody would continue to learn and get better, take into consideration all the hard work and the time put in, how things ended up last year and all that. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I don’t know for sure. Coming into this year, we got a good mindset. We’ve got a new manager, a couple coaches, we made some additions. All in all, everybody is upbeat and excited. We got a long way to go here in spring training. So far, so good.”
On whether Matt Williams reminds him of any other managers he’s played for: “You know, Charlie (Manuel) a little bit. Just, Charlie could be intense. He could be intimidating. Not only that, but the playing stuff. Charlie’s career was more in Japan, but he was MVP over there. He played the game a long time. Matt, a five-time All-Star, something like that. Obviously, when I was growing up, he was a big-name player. There are similarities there. This is Day 1. It’s kind of hard to know. We’re going to definitely spend enough time together, get to know each other. Looking forward to it.”
On being reunited with Mark Weidemaier, who was on the Dodgers’ coaching staff when Werth was in L.A.: “You know what’s funny? When I heard the name or whatever (this offseason), I didn’t put it together until I saw him. And then I saw him, and I was like, ‘Holy (crap), I remember you! I remember you!’ He’s a little off-the-wall. He’s a good baseball guy. His expertise is in defense, situational stuff, all that good stuff. I think he’s going to be good.”
On Williams saying he’ll rotate Nate McLouth into the rotation, giving Werth, Bryce Harper and Denard Span occasional days off: “You don’t like giving up your spot once you’ve got it. At the same time, you always get nicked up, guys are always dinged up, so to have a guy like Nate, who’s the type of talent that can play pretty much every day ... and Scott (Hairston) too, for that matter. ... To have those guys, it’s very valuable to have players like that on your bench. Guys who can step in and perform. At the same time, you got to keep those guys fresh, you’ve got to give them at-bats and let them play so they can keep their talent up. So, I’m all for whatever is best for the team. If it means me taking a day off, so be it. If it means me playing every day, I’m fine with that too.”
On being healthy entering spring: “It’s always nice. I’ve definitely dealt with my fair share of injuries over the years. The times I’ve come into spring training with existing injuries, that’s when it’s the toughest. To be healthy and injury free at the moment is good.”
On the Nats not putting too much pressure to come out of the gates hot this season: “I feel like it’s like that every year. Like it’s, ‘Hey, we gotta get off to a good start!’ When I played on all those teams in Philly, that was always the mantra. That’s fine. My strategy has always been, it kind of goes like this (makes rising motion with his arm) and you’re playing your best ball in the middle of August and down the stretch. Not that you want to go down at the start, but just build up to where you’re on the upswing going into the postseason. And we were really, really close to timing that whole thing right last year.
“If we can somehow sneak in ... we just didn’t play good enough in the first half to give ourselves a chance in the end. But when you play like we did down the stretch and go into the postseason on fire like that, it’s good. A lot of teams end up winning the World Series like that. I didn’t mind that. I liked that about last year. People were awful down on last year. I’m kind of like, other than the first couple months, it wasn’t all that bad. We were really close to where we needed to be.”
On whether he’s talked about lineup ideas with Williams like he did with Davey Johnson: “No. I don’t think Davey and I talked lineups as much as you thought we did. I think we might have talked through you guys (the media). I’ve maintained that I don’t make the lineup. I have suggestions for the lineup, but that’s about as far as it goes. I’m just a grunt around here. I think you guys know where I want to hit.”
Where is that, exactly? “I’ve always wanted to hit third. If that’s where I hit, fine. If that’s not where I hit. ... I’ve hit fourth, I’ve hit fifth, I’ve hit sixth, I’ve led off. I could probably hit ninth if it came to it.”
On Adam LaRoche and Ryan Mattheus rivaling him for best beard on the team: “They got me. I trimmed up last week. I had no idea. Usually it’s a no-contest so I kind of gave up on it. I guess I came in third.”