No panic for Werth after loss in return

BOSTON - Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth was 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his first game of the season after missing most of spring training while recovering from right shoulder surgery.

“I was trying to think of historically on opening day how I fare,” Werth said. “I might have to look it up, but this is kind of standard opening day for me. Usually my timing’s a little bit off and what have you. But I feel good physically.”

Jayson Werth swings red.jpgWerth hadn’t played more than seven innings in any of his minor league rehab starts. So with his team trailing 9-3 and the game seemingly out of reach, Nationals manager Matt Williams replaced Werth with Reed Johnson.

“I was out there a long time and he wanted me to be available for (today). At that point, it’s hard to argue with,” Werth said.

The Nats could’ve filled half of a “Not Top 10” highlight reel with some of their poor defensive plays on Monday. Werth was part of at least one of the plays, when he and center fielder Michael A. Taylor were unable to make a make a play on a towering fly ball off the bat of Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli.

“I think it was a high sky, a bright sun and the wind was blowing,” Werth said. “It was just tough. I was in left. I didn’t have a sun field in left, and it was challenging. When the ball went up, it was really hard to see. And center and right were more in the sun. It was a tough day out there.”

Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts had an all-world day against the Nats, going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer, four RBIs and two stolen bases. In the first, Betts overcame the difficult conditions in the outfield to rob Nats right fielder Bryce Harper of a would-be two-run blast on a spectacular leaping catch.

“That was an unbelievable play,” Werth said. “That really set the tone for the game right there. If he don’t make that play and that ball goes out, I think things are a lot different. That really set the tone for us and obviously put us on our heels a little bit.”

Harper and Betts are two of the game’s young stars at just 22 years old. It was certainly one of baseball’s bright plays of the early season.

“I mean, I missed it,” Harper said. “I didn’t think I got it very well. I think if I would’ve barreled it, it would’ve been over the bullpen. But I didn’t really hit it well. Mookie made a great play on it, so I tip my cap to him. He’s a great player and great players make great plays.”

As his 13th season in the big leagues is just beginning, the veteran Werth is not close to pushing the panic button with his team sitting at 2-5.

“I’m not going to get too frustrated at this point,” Werth said. “I don’t think anybody in here should be overly frustrated. We’re not playing the type of ball we want to play. But things can change really quick. You look back to last year and the years before, we’ve overcome more than this. It’s just a game. We’ll put it behind us and get ready for (Tuesday).”

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