PITTSBURGH - Before Saturday's game against the Pirates, Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was on the PNC Park field, taking early batting practice and continuing the work he'd been doing with hitting coach Rick Eckstein for the last week to get his swing in a better spot. The results showed up during Saturday's game a little quicker than he expected.
Werth hit his third homer of the season in his second at-bat, blasting a solo shot off Jeff Karstens. "We worked on that earlier today," he deadpanned. "We worked on hitting homers."
In actuality, Werth said he's been working on his move to get his bat to the strike zone at the right pace, a timing issue that can sometimes be hard to fix. But Werth said he knows what he needs to do, and in a couple days, he expects an outburst could be coming.
"It's close. I feel like it's close," he said. "My BP has been getting better and better. Today was probably the best. It's frustrating, because it's not like I feel bad up there. I'm seeing the ball good, and I feel like I'm close. Hopefully the next couple days, I'll lock it in, and go on a tear."
He flied out to right field in his other two at-bats of the night, also drawing a walk. On many nights after games, Werth heads straight to a video replay of his at-bats and plays in the field to make sure his technique is good, and by the time he talked to reporters last night, he'd already watched replays of all his at-bats.
"I just hit and missed that ball in my first at-bat," Werth said. "He threw me a curveball and I took a good swing at it, and just kind of mishit it. On tape, I was in position and all that. That happens. My third at-bat, I felt like I just leaked a little bit. In a couple days, I think that ball's probably hit a lot farther and harder."
He's hopeful the rest of his teammates aren't far behind him. The Nationals have the fewest hits, fewest doubles, second-lowest batting average and third-fewest runs in the National League. And yet, they're only a game below .500, which is mostly the byproduct of consistent starting pitching and their ability to churn out an extra run from time to time on the basepaths. All things considered, their 9-10 record doesn't look so bad.
"We're getting there. I feel like it's all going to line up here pretty soon," Werth said. "Everybody's going to get locked, and we're going to take off. As little as we've hit, we're not in a bad spot. We start hitting, we'll be alright."