CHICAGO — Jayson Werth was playing Alfonso Soriano to pull in the fourth inning Wednesday night when the former Nationals’ outfielder dropped an RBI-double just inside the right field line. Werth had a long way to run and, before he got there, he pulled up and slid. The ball bounced past him a bit and before Werth could recover, Soriano was standing on second base and Geovany Soto had scored what would stand up as the game-winning RBI in a 4-2 Cubs victory.
Werth was charging hard for the ball, but he was also staring a brick wall in the face and with little to no wiggle room between hitting the wall at full speed and letting the ball drop in fair territory.
So, from the right fielder’s perspective, what happened on the play?
“If there’s 15 feet of foul ground you might have a play on it,” Werth said. “I’d have to go back and look and see if I could have made a play on it or not.
“I was over in the gap a little so that made it even more challenging because I had even further to run, but if there’s more ground over there, do I catch it? I still don’t know. I’m not going to run full speed into the wall. It’s one of those things. You’ve got to put yourself first sometimes out there and try and make the play but it was just one of those really well-placed baseballs.”
Two more solo home runs, by Reed Johnson and Soriano himself, made the play something of a moot point in a two-run loss, but it was one of the more intriguing plays of the game. Werth, by the way, hit a solo homer in the sixth as well to bring his season total to 14.
That got me thinking. If Werth’s 2011 is so bad — and to be fair, it has definitely been getting better recently — where was he at after 116 games in 2010?
Here are the numbers:
2010: 113 G, 475 PA, 399 AB, 71 R, 120 H, 38 2B, 1 3B, 16 HR, 60 RBI, 63 BB, 112 K, .301 AVG, .394 OBP, .521 SLG
2011: 111 G, 482 PA, 411 AB, 51 R, 93 H, 22 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 59 BB, 118 K, .226 AVG, .332 OBP, .387 SLG
Interestingly, if you look at the raw totals in a vacuum, they’re not all that different, which simply shows how delicate the balance is between a player having a career year and the same player have a sub-par one. The difference for Werth is basically 16 more doubles, two more homers and four more walks, along with nine more singles. I don’t know that there’s really a huge point in laying all of this out there, I just found the fact that the raw numbers aren’t all that different (and granted, 16 doubles is an awful lot), but the totals are significantly altered.
– In case you haven’t heard, Bryce Harper was ejected from the Harrisburg Senators game Wednesday night, the first ejection for Harper since he’s been promoted to Double-A. There’s really not all that much to say about this, and I’ve seen the video. From reading the reports, it sounds like almost every player on the field took issue at one point or another with the home plate umpires strike zone. Harper clearly thought he’d just seen ball four and he flipped. Sure, it’s not great for him to throw his helmet and get in an umpire’s face, but big leaguers do it all the time. He needs to mature, that much has been proven, but there’s not that much fault that could be found (in my opinion) with his antics Wednesday night.
– Laynce Nix hasn’t started a game since Friday in Colorado but the left fielder will be in the starting lineup tomorrow, he said. Nix dealt with flu-like symptoms all weekend and, of course, is still learning to manage his sore right Achilles. Nix pinch hit Wednesday night and ran hard to first base on an infield grounder, but appeared to be limping after he was out at first.
No need for any new concern, though, Nix said, blaming any appearance of a limp on the inability to really get his Achilles loose within the cramped confines of Wrigley Field (especially being called on as a pinch hitter).
“It’s hard to get loose here,” Nix said. “I hadn’t played in a few days and I just had to get the rust off.”
It’s obviously much easier for Nix to get the Achilles warmed up and keep it loose when he’s starting a game and moving on it for nine innings. Getting an extra burst of speed is really where it hinders Nix and often times he’s pulled for a pinch runner or defensive replacement late in games but, so far, he’s done a decent job of knowing when he needs to sit out and knowing when he can push it.