Jayson Werth returned to the Nationals lineup on Thursday night 88 days after he broke his left wrist sliding to catch a line drive in right field at Nationals Park. The day was May 6th and the Nats were playing the Phillies and pitcher Cole Hamels. On the day of his return, Aug. 2, the Phillies were the opponent once again and Hamels was on the mound.
Asked whether the significance of the game had anything to do with the timing of his return, Werth instead spoke of an almost impatience to get back in the lineup of a team that has maintained first place ever since he went out.
It was just a coincidence. I felt like I was ready, I didnt really see what the point was to continue to play games in the minor leagues. I wasnt getting a whole lot out of it, he said.
Like I never missed a step, it was good.
Werth said he felt nothing special in his major league return, but did acknowledge the road back got interesting at times.
The first game I played in Potomac, the first game in rehab, that was kind of surreal because I was back in the minors. I played in that field in like 99 or whatever so that was a little strange, he said.
As far as tonight goes, I felt better and Im just glad to be back with my guys.
Werth reached base twice in the Nationals 3-0 win over the Phillies, he singled to left field off of former teammate Cole Hamels in the second inning. He also earned a walk off Michael Schwimer in the eighth.
The highlight of Werths night was an RBI in the third inning to give the Nats their third run. With Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche in scoring position, Werth poked a sleepy grounder to Chase Utley whose only play was to first as Morse was already steps away from home. He also made a rangy catch in center field to cap an all-around productive night.
Werth was able to contribute right away and help the Nats avoid a series sweep by Philadelphia, but players afterwards said just his presence makes a difference.
Hes huge in the clubhouse, in the dugout, out on the field. He is just a leader, hes a gamer. Regardless of what we saw last year, regardless of what is going on statistically, LaRoche said. Weve been waiting a couple of months for this. It has been great.
Its great, he is a leader for us. Especially against his old team, he always seems to do a little more against them for whatever reason, Ross Detwiler said. You have a leader out there and a great outfielder, and you know what he does with the bat thats why he gets paid.
The Nationals moved to 62-42 on the year with the win, once again an even 20 games above the .500 mark. When Werth suffered the wrist injury they were 18-10 and had played just 28 total games. 58 games and two months await the first place Nationals, but at this point Werth is just happy to be back in the mix and a part of the team.
Weve won a lot of games with that talent and going forward, we have two months to go, he said. When we get healthy and when Desmond gets back we are going to be tough.