PHILADELPHIA - Jayson Werth’s first game back at Citizens Bank Park as a member of the visiting team is over, and if the Philles fans are going to spend the rest of Werth’s career both honoring and hassling the Nationals outfielder, it sounds like he’s up for it.
“A lot of familiar faces out there (in right field),” Werth said. “I feel pretty comfortable out there. I’ve played a few games out there. It was a lot of fun. Obviously, the atmosphere is great. Packed house. Passionate fans. This is a very fun place to play, whether you’re the home team or the visiting team. There’s not too many places that are like this.”
Werth was booed heartily at times, and fans in right field came ready with signs (one read, “Werthless: You bad mouthed the Phillies, now we’re bad mouthing you. Booooo”). The crowd of 45,695 took special pleasure when Werth had trouble with a couple balls in right field - a Cole Hamels triple that went over his head, and a Jimmy Rollins triple that Werth had trouble retrieving in the right-field corner.
But he also got two standing ovations from fans; the first before he came to the plate in the first inning, the second as he ran out to his old spot in right field in the bottom of the first.
He tipped his cap to acknowledge both, which seemed to stop the boos, and said afterward he was touched to get the reception he got.
“Things are definitely different. But I was glad it went the way it did,” Werth said. “From here on out, whatever happens, I’ll definitely always remember that first at-bat.”
Asked what the biggest surprise was in his return, Werth cracked a joke about the Phillies’ new $10 million scoreboard. “That thing is unbelievable. When did they get that?” he said.
It was just one more reminder that Citizens Bank Park is no longer Werth’s home. But even if it isn’t, he made it clear his relationship to Phillies fans will always be something different than that of most visiting players.
“I enjoyed it. I enjoyed every second of it,” Werth said. “I was glad to be back here. I love playing here. I always have. I always will. No matter what.”