Now that the new season is here, Jayson Werth can tell the whole truth about the end of last season. After he returned from a broken left wrist, Werth hit .300 with a .394 on-base percentage. But he also slugged only three home runs, which he attributed to weakness in his wrist that caused him to use a lighter bat.
“At the end of the year, I was really working through some hand stuff,” Werth said today. “The strength was the big thing. I felt like I still performed at a pretty high level. Hit .300 as a big leaguer when I came back. It’s not all bad. I just didn’t hit homers. I still hit doubles. And we won. So that’s the main thing.”
Werth said during spring training that full strength may not return to his wrist until two years after the injury, and that there’s a chance his wrist will never be what it was before May 6, the night he fractured it diving for a sinking line drive.
For now, though, Werth is confident in how the wrist is holding up. He has gone back to his standard bat, an ounce-and-a-half heavier than the model he used at the end of last year. During batting practice, he uses an even heavier bat.
“I think we’re at the point where it’s good,” Werth said. “Now we got to see how it holds up over the course of the season. Got through spring training. It progressively got better. Here we are now at the start of the season, and it feels good. The next real test real will be as it progresses through the season, how it is and how much strength I can maintain.”
Werth, of course, has experience returning from wrist injuries. His career nearly ended before a unique surgery performed at the Mayo Clinic salvaged an unrelated injury to his left wrist. In 2007, when Werth came back, he missed time on the disabled with a hand injury he believed to be unrelated to that surgery. When he returned from that DL stint, Werth hit .400 for a full month.
Werth relayed that story to make a point about this season. If he misses any time, it would have to be a significant injury and not simply a maintenance rest.
“For me not to play, it would have to be pretty serious,” Werth said. “It would probably have to be an injury-type thing. I don’t think it would be at the point where a day off would help it. … You can run into some problems. But I don’t think I’d be having problems where rest will be the answer.”
Manager Davey Johnson said Werth’s wrist has been fine since spring training, but “he doesn’t feel comfortable about the way he’s attacking the ball,” Johnson said. “He’s not staying on top.”
Werth has started the year 0 for 8 with two strikeouts. In two of his at-bats last night, Werth popped to shallow right field. He called the mini-slump a typical event for him early in the season, owing to the irregular schedule.
“I felt great up until yesterday,” Werth said. “Like I always say, spring training is spring training. Then you got opening day, which is something totally different. Then the season starts. Today, really, is like the first day of the season. There’s no off day. You’re coming off a game. I feel good. I feel pretty confident about where I’m at. I just got a little opening day funk here. Hopefully we’ll turn it around. But spring training was good. Felt great in spring training.”