In many ways, 2015 was a lost season for Jayson Werth in the twilight of his 13-year career. The 36-year-old waited until January before undergoing AC joint surgery on his right shoulder, leaving him unavailable to participate in most of spring training and delaying his season debut until April 13.
When Werth did return, his struggled mightily at the plate, batting just .208 with two homers, 12 RBIs and 25 strikeouts through his first 27 games. However, Werth was beginning to heat up at the plate when a 92 mph fastball darted inside, drilling him in the left wrist during a game in San Diego on May 15. The impact broke Werth’s wrist in two places and sent the veteran outfielder to the disabled list for 61 games.
Werth battled regaining his timing, hitting only .140 through his first 17 games back, while the Nationals lost hold of first place over the same period. A move to place Werth atop the lineup finally sparked his season on Aug. 18. Over the next 30 games, he slashed .303/.397/.598 with eight homers, 10 doubles, one triple, 20 RBIs and 25 runs scored.
But Werth limped to the finish line, slumping with a .130 average over his final 12 games. He appeared in 88 games throughout the season with 73 starts in left field, where he lumbered around while appearing to never quite gets his legs underneath him.
Werth’s questionable play left many wondering whether he was still capable of being an everyday player as he approaches his final two seasons under contract with the Nationals.
“I think so,” Werth said when asked the question last weekend. “At some point, that’s not going to be the case. That’s just the reality of it. Until I feel like I can’t play every day, I have no other reason to think that I can’t go out there and do what I’ve always done. I feel good. I feel healthy. The wrist thing is tricky. I’ve had three surgeries and four fractures. It’s a real thing. You can’t outrun Father Time. Then you throw some injuries in there, so I know I’m at the end of my career moreso than the beginning. But I don’t feel like I’m slowing down any time soon.”
Werth reportedly clashed with former manager Matt Williams as the Nationals unraveled down the stretch last season. The rigid Williams is gone with new skipper Dusty Baker - considered a player’s manager - taking over.
“I’ve always thought and been told that players reflect their manager,” Werth said. “We’ll see what type of attitude and persona (Baker) brings. I’ve had a couple of conversations in the past, so I don’t know him that well. I’m looking forward to getting to know him and getting a feel for how he does things on a day-to-day basis. Everybody is different. Everybody that I’ve played for has been different. From that perspective, it will take time for everyone to get to know each other. We’ll feel it out in spring training and we’ll get it rolling. I think it’s a positive that he’s bringing a lot to the player. He’s been a player and a manager, and I think he’s got a lot to offer.”