Matt Williams praises Jayson Werth’s post-pop-up sprint

Washington Nationals' Jayson Werth singles during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Friday, May 30, 2014, in Washington. The Nationals won 9-2. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

(AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

The play amounted to nothing in regard to the final result Friday. Nationals Manager Matt Williams took note, though, of what Jayson Werth did after he popped up to the catcher in the fifth inning.

With one out, Werth skied a first-pitch curveball straight into the air. Werth chucked his bat in frustration, then bolted to first base. He never bothered to check if the ball would land fair or foul. By the time the ball thudded into Chris Gimenez’s mitt behind the plate, in foul territory, Werth had sprinted to within about 20 feet of second base.

It meant nothing to the score. It meant a lot to Williams.

“There’s ways to lead,” Williams said. “You could do it verbally, which is probably not the most effective most of the time. With your actions is very effective. Everybody notices that. The guys on the bench notice that.”

Any talk of hustle, or lack thereof, will hearken back to April 19, the day Williams benched Bryce Harper after he peeled off the first base line following a tap out to the pitcher. Williams then mentioned “an agreement” players made to him and with others. He brought it up again when asked about Werth’s play.

“We don’t want to rehash it,” Williams said. “But go back a long time – we made an agreement. We’re going to play the game the way we can best give ourselves the chance to win. And last night’s effort from Jayson – having played just about every day this year – is an example of that leadership.

“What he did last night is not assume the ball would be foul. He simply played the game the way he knows how to play it. If for some reason that ball drops, he needs to be on second base. He takes great pride in it. That’s how you lead a ballclub.”

Last weekend, many fans noticed Wilson Ramos peeling off on a grounder back to the pitcher. Two nights later, Ramos hit a similar ball and ran to touch first, even though he was out by 40 feet.

Ramos explained that he had stopped short on the first groundout for an unusual reason. He broke his bat, and the sharp edge of the handle struck to his batting glove, and he had a hard time letting go of the bat. But he was aware he needed to make it to first the next time.

“If you hit any groundball,” Ramos said, “you have to touch the base.”

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