The Washington Times - April 11, 2012, 12:37AM

NEW YORK — Reclining in a chair inside the visitors clubhouse at Citi Field late Tuesday night, Jayson Werth was surrounded by a group of reporters. Hard not to want to talk to the guy who went out and got four hits, right?

Informed that it was the first time since 2009 that Werth had collected four hits in a game — a span of two years, eight months and 13 days — Werth was nonchalant. 

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“Cool,” he said. 

Werth began his 2012 season 1-for-14 with three walks. Monday night, after he’d picked up his first hit of the season, a triple, but also singlehandedly left five runners on base with two strikeouts and a double play, he watched video with bench coach Randy Knorr and the two discussed the fickle nature of early-season at-bats.

“He said that someone told him one time that the first 100 at-bats of the season are to get comfortable,” Werth said. “Everything else happens from there.”

The important thing is to make sure that when those 100 at-bats have passed, you are comfortable. One of the main issues Werth has said he felt he had last year was that he never did quite reach that point. He never found the precise bat path he’d been searching for, never quite got his timing where he wanted it. The result was a .232 batting average.

By the seventh inning Tuesday night, Werth had three hits and two RBI. The amount of times he did that in one game in all of the 2011 season? Two. In the span of one game, he raised his season average from .071 to .263.

“It’s really important to get a good path and have a good plan from the time spring training starts, to carry it on,” Werth said. “Really, the start of the season is what it is. I remember back in Philly, those teams would always start slow and finish hot. And I think that can definitely happen with any team. It’s not always how you start, it’s how you finish.”

The Nationals learned earlier Tuesday that they’ll be without cleanup hitter Michael Morse for a little longer here. Morse suffered a setback in his rehab from a right lat strain and while he’s sent for further testing, the Nationals lineup will have to continue to try and carry on without him.

Werth being a constructive part of that is integral.