Nationals

Quick Links

Still finding his groove, Werth gets night off

jaysonwerth042615.png

Still finding his groove, Werth gets night off

After missing all of spring training and the season’s first week, Jayson Werth figured both to be in danger of getting off to a slow start and needing more days off than usual while his body got into regular-season shape.

The slow start has indeed happened, but Werth has played more than most would have assumed, including a stretch of 11 straight days in the Nationals’ lineup that finally came to an end Tuesday when manager Matt Williams decided to give the veteran outfielder a chance to take a rest and start rookie Michael Taylor in his place.

“This time of year it’s especially important to be mindful of the long-term progress he’s making,” Williams said. “So just a day today, gives us an opportunity to get Mike in there and get him in left field and get him some at-bats to keep him going, too.”

Werth, who had right shoulder surgery in January, hasn’t quite looked like himself yet since debuting one week into the season. He’s hitting just .176 with a paltry .203 slugging percentage, numbers that had been even worse until he notched a pair of singles Monday night.

Werth, who turns 36 later this month, has noted how many times he has hit a ball hard right at an outfielder. And indeed, there has been some element of bad luck in his performance so far, as evidenced by his .224 batting average on balls in play (more than 100 points worse than his career mark).

“Early on, he wasn’t seeing the ball real well,” Williams said. “You never get enough at-bats in a rehab assignment, anyway. So you kind of anticipate some early struggles, with timing and rhythm and seeing the ball. I think it’s coming, though.”

Some of those hard-hit balls surely will start falling for hits, but there is also a question of Werth’s diminished power. He has only two extra-base hits so far this season (both doubles) and hasn’t hit many balls that have approached the warning track.

The question is whether this is another symptom of his delayed start to the season, or evidence of a more worrisome decline in power.

“I think that will come, too,” Williams said. “That comes with rhythm, and that comes with timing. If you’re not seeing the baseball the way you want to see it, then the breaking ball looks bigger and better, the fastball jumps on you. But once that rhythm calms down and he’s able to get comfortable in that regard, then it’ll come, too. He’ll be able to catch those hanging breaking balls and put them over the fence, or the ahead-in-the-count fastball, he’ll be able to turn on that, too. It will come, but it takes time.”

Quick Links

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

Quick Links

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE