The Washington Post

Jayson Werth is all the way back, sooner than expected

(Patrick McDermott/GETTY IMAGES)

“I am totally surprised how my wrist is doing, how I’ve recovered,” Werth said this afternoon. “When I look down at my wrist and I see that scar, it almost reminds me. Like, ‘Oh, yeah.’ I almost forget about it until I see the hatchet wound.”

Werth has been surprised, too, at how quickly his swing has returned. He spoke in spring training about finding the proper “path” for his swing, something he never captured in 2011. It typically takes him most of spring, the better part of six weeks, to feel the desired comfort.

As he rehabbed, he played in only nine minor league games, two at Class A Potomac and seven at Class AAA Syracuse. After working with Syracuse hitting coach Troy Gingrich, he felt ready in barely more than one week.

“We went to work,” Werth said. “When I first got there, I stunk. I had no timing. I hadn’t really faced any pitchers. I got thrown right into the fire. I had to make huge adjustments overnight. For whatever reason, the work in the cage, it transferred to the game in no time. Just like that. That’s the biggest reason why my rehab didn’t last very long. It was like, my swing and timing are ready. Let’s go. We’ll figure the other stuff out as we go. I was tired of watching.”

After missing what amounted to an entire offseason in the middle of the year, Werth has picked up where he left off. He has gone 12 for 30 with six walks and three doubles, good for a 1.000 OPS. Combine that with his productive first month of the season, and Werth has a 133 OPS+ on the year.

He has made his 2011 season nothing but a distant, bad memory. (Or, as to borrow his colorful term from spring training, a “fart in the wind.”)

“I think since he’s come back, his approach, he’s using the whole field,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I thought he got a little too much going opposite field. This year, he’s attacking the ball. They come in on him, he’ll pull it. He’s much more of a threat. I like his swing much more this year. Everything about him is great.”

Johnson said Werth’s aggression has to a more efficient, shorter swing.

“Well, when you’re constantly letting the ball get deep and going the other way, it looks longer, because it is longer,” Johnson said. “The only way to let the ball get even with you is flattening out the barrel. If you’re hitting the ball where it’s pitched, you’re shorter and more direct to the ball. That’s what all good hitters have to do to be good hitters.”

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.


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