PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Jayson Werth was prepared for whatever reception fans in Philadelphia want to give him in his first game back since leaving for Washington.
Werth, a key member of the Phillies' 2008 World Series championship team, signed a $126 million, seven-year deal with the Nationals during the offseason. He spent four seasons in Philadelphia and developed into an All-Star outfielder after nearly giving up on baseball because of a wrist injury.
“I’m looking forward to it. Obviously, it’s going to be interesting,” Werth said before Tuesday night’s game at Citizens Bank Park. “I know a little about Philly fans and their makeup. There were some good times. I’m proud to be a member of the 2008 World Series champions. There’s been a lot of emotions in this stadium, with this team, some unbelievable moments I’ll always remember. I hope the fans remember the good times.”
Werth was booed loudly by a large contingent of Phillies fans who made the trip to Washington when the teams met early in the season. He was a popular player during his time in Philadelphia, and spoke fondly of the fans.
“It’s really something special here,” he said. “I look forward to playing here tonight and for the rest of my career for better or worse. There’s no place like it.”
Werth entered batting just .233 with four homers and seven RBIs. He hit .268 with 36 homers and 99 RBIs in 2009 and followed that up with a .296 average, 27 homers and 85 RBIs last year.
“I see the same guy,” Nats manager Jim Riggleman said. “It’s a pleasure to manager him. I don’t see anything in his actions that implicates he’s under pressure.”
A first-round pick by Baltimore in 1997, Werth began his career with Toronto in 2002. He played a total of 41 games with the Blue Jays in two seasons and then spent two years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. At one point, his career was in jeopardy because of a wrist injury that forced him to miss the 2006 season.
He came back, signed a one-year deal with the Phillies and played well in a part-time role in 2007. Werth platooned with Geoff Jenkins for most of ‘08 until taking over every day down the stretch and helping the Phillies win their first championship since 1980.
Werth is tied for ninth on the all-time list for postseason homers with 13. He credited Phillies manager Charlie Manuel for helping him become a successful hitter.
“Charlie played a big role in my career,” he said. “When I got to Philly, I don’t think I was in Charlie’s better graces. But as time went on I became one of Charlie’s guys. He’s like a father figure to me. I respect him wholeheartedly. I’ll always remember what he did for me and my career. He’s the best. I love Charlie Manuel.”