MILWAUKEE — In the sixth inning Saturday night, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche milled about the visitors’ dugout at Miller Park and watched as Jayson Werth strode to the plate. Werth, who could make a compelling case to be considered the best hitter in the National League since July 1, is hitting .392 since that date.
In the 15 games since the All-Star break, Werth has reached base in almost half of his plate appearances. LaRoche, on the other hand, entered Saturday with four hits since the break.
Desmond offered LaRoche a suggestion: why not try Werth’s bat?
“He can’t get out,” Desmond told LaRoche. “So try it.”
“You get to the point where you’ll try anything,” LaRoche said. “It got to the point where my bats didn’t feel good so why not try somebody else’s?
“Plus I think he’s about 18 for his last 20 so I figured that was a good bat to pick up.”
LaRoche didn’t ask. As Werth, who left the game with a minor groin tweak, returned to the dugout, he grabbed his bat. Then he connected with the first pitch he saw, sending a 91-mph fastball into the Brewers’ bullpen in left center field to put the Nationals up 3-0.
As his teammates watched the flight of the ball, someone screamed at Werth “That’s your bat!”
“When he came in I acted like I was mad,” Werth said. “But I was happy for him.”
Desmond took his bat with him into the on-deck circle. But after LaRoche homered, he grabbed Werth’s bat from him, too. Unfortunately for Desmond, all the bat had left in it in that inning was a line out to left field.
“These guys are something,” manager Davey Johnson said, a grin plastered on his face.
It is actually not the first time LaRoche has cheated on his own equipment. In 2012, someone suggested to LaRoche that he try the lighter bat of Roger Bernadina against NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball. LaRoche homered then, too.
“I’m not one to just grab other peoples bats all the time,” LaRoche said. “Most of the time I’m using mine, but, get desperate enough you’ll try anything I guess.”
Werth generally is not that liberal with his bats and equipment.
“It kind of depends who it is and what the situation is but I’ve got plenty of bats,” he said.
“There was one time in the World Series when I only had two bats, and Shane Victorino used one of them and broke it. I wasn’t really happy at that.”
Werth had an absurd World Series that year. He hit .444. with a .583 on-base percentage and .778 slugging percentage. It is strange, though, that he only had two bats.
“It’s a long story,” Werth said. “I switched models and weights and stuff. So they got me two for the series, quickly, and a couple days later I had more. But I only had two for those first couple games.
“Victorino is the type of guy that doesn’t ask. He just goes around using everybody’s bats and he broke it in like the first game. Things were a little tight in the World Series so I was a little upset.”
Aside from his personal stats, the Phillies also beat the Tampa Bay Rays to win that title so, it worked out OK.
“That was many moons ago,” Werth said with a smile. “Tonight I wasn’t as upset.”