Jayson Werth, slowly, has been hitting more like the player the Nationals thought they had signed to the richest contract in franchise history this offseason. Werth still has a ways to go – he still has a smaller OPS than, to cull one name from a long list, Jerry Hairston. In the second half, he has a .370 on-base percentage and a .449 slugging percentage. It’s a start, and Manager Davey Johnson is encouraged about Werth’s approach.
“Jayson, to me, is getting more relaxed and more comfortable in his surroundings all the time,” Johnson said. “Especially since some other guys have started to hit, I think it takes some pressure off him. I think sometimes coming over to a new ballclub, you put too much on your shoulders. I think he did that coming over here early, and kind of got himself messed up a little bit trying to do too much. He’s looking better all the time to me. He could bust out anytime.”
Werth has spoken a few times this season about the other players around the league who, like him, signed monster free agent deals and nosedived compared to their career norms. Carl Crawford, who has picked up his performance, and Adam Dunn, who has not, are two prime examples.
In the start of the season, Werth was “just trying to be too fine,” Johnson said. “He was taking a lot of pitches. You can just tell watching from afar, I thought it looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. And this is not a game that you can carry a lot of responsibilities. You’ve got to think about No. 1 and what you can do, and I think he was a little trying to help out too much in other areas.”
Tonight, it’s Chien-Ming Wang and Matt Garza. As always, talk about the game right here.