PHOENIX - Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino has watched Jayson Werth go through slumps before - maybe not to the length of the one he's endured during his first half in Washington, and certainly not with the scrutiny he's received after signing a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals.
But Victorino has watched Werth on TV this season. He's traded text messages with his former teammate. And he's convinced Werth isn't doing anything differently than he always has.
"You sign a big, long-term deal, and you become the face of the franchise, so there's added pressure in that category," Victorino said. "Jayson's trying to do the best he can. I've talked to him a couple times. I've asked him, 'Hey, what are you doing differently?' He's saying, 'Nothing.' It's just part of the game. It happens."
Victorino went through an off-year last season, when he hit .259 after batting at least .281 the previous four seasons. He's back to hitting .303 this season.
He said he expects Werth to bounce out of his slump, as well, just like he saw him do in Philadelphia.
"That was one thing we'd always see - he swung his way out of it," Victorino said. "Adding pressure to yourself because you're slumping, that's when it becomes tough. But I've seen him go through slumps when he was in Philly, and the next thing you know, he goes 9-for-9 and he has a great second half. Jayson's known as a second-half player. I don't want him to turn around, because we play them, but for him, I'd love to see him finish the season strong."
Victorino wasn't necessarily surprised, though, to hear Werth is catching flak from fans in Washington. When Werth left Philadelphia, he went from being the No. 5 hitter in an extraordinarily deep lineup to a team that expected him to be the main run producer - and the contract he signed brought extra scrutiny.
"I always say to fans, 'Be behind your guy,' " Victorino said. "This guy, eventually, is going to be your guy. Right now, he might not have clicked, and might not have been doing what you want him to do. Maybe he's not living up to your expectations, but he's a great player. He wasn't brought to Washington for seven years and $126 million for no reason. ... If he's starting to slack, and he doesn't hustle, that's different. But I watch the games. He still hustles. He still plays hard."