As Ryan Zimmerman noted following Game 4 of the NLDS, Jayson Werth is not and probably never will be a warm, cuddly figure. But there’s no doubt the veteran outfielder has earned a ton of respect from those in the Nationals’ clubhouse, even as he fought through a miserable 2011, and his teammates were thrilled to see Werth end up as the hero Thursday night.
Here’s a sampling of their thoughts on the big moment:
“I don’t think there’s any mystery when you’re a hundred-loss team; sometimes you have to do something to get the dominoes started. Obviously Jayson had a bad year last year and he’d be the first one to tell you that, but he is invaluable to this team in the clubhouse in what he does on a day-to-day basis. The fans don’t get to see that. The fans like to interact with players and be a friend with players and Jayson is not a friendly person on the baseball field – which is fine; that’s what makes him good. So I’m so happy for him that the fans can kind of share a moment with him, because he deserves it.
“The stuff that he does day-to-day in here – whether he’s hurt, healthy, he grinds out every single day. That’s kind of what a lot of us have learned from him. We have a young team and he’s been through a lot. Maybe not so much him telling people, but people watching him.
“It’s no surprise. I think, as professional athletes, we want to be the best player that we can. When we’re not that way, it doesn’t eat up anyone more than that individual. Sometimes it might not seem like that, and some people don’t think it’s that and some people go, ‘Oh, they’ll just get their money,’ but deep inside it really gets to us. And I think it gets to him, but he does such a good job of not letting that affect the way he goes about his business. But I think that was good for him. He might not tell you that, but it was.”
“It was an unbelievable moment. Werth’s been clutch in the playoffs his whole career, and for him to have a great AB like that against a guy like Lynn throwing 97 with sink, cut, curveball, slider – he’s got electric stuff. That was a pretty unbelievable moment.
“I was just saying to myself, ‘If he gets on, I’ve got to bunt him over, so, 97 [mph] to bunt, that’s going to be pretty hard. I hope he hits a homer.’ And he hit a homer. I was excited, the fans were excited, it was electric in that place.”
“He’s one of our leaders in the clubhouse. He’s been a winner his whole career, and that’s what he brings. He brings that winning mentality, and he has, ever since he step foot in the Washington Nationals’ organization. In a spot like that, he’s one of three guys you want up. That’s what he does: He grinds out at-bats and he found a pitch to handle tonight.”
“That makes everything worth it. We all knew he was going to bounce back. We never gave up on him. With the amount of work that he’s done in this clubhouse and for our team … he’s a big reason why we’re here.”
“He’s been doing it all year. He was fouling pitches off, tough pitches, and staying alive. It was only a matter of time he was going to leave it over the middle, and he did. He hit it pretty well and the celebration was crazy. I got my feet stepped on a little bit, but it’s all good.”