Jul 2, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT
Jayson Werth hasn’t been himself lately at the plate, and he knows it.
“Just been dealing with a little leak there for … god, feels like a couple months,” he said. “I’ve been battling. I’ve been grinding.”
Werth’s slump hasn’t been quite as long as that, but over a 3-week stretch from June 11 until last night, he was hitting a paltry .145 with and even more-abysmal .177 slugging percentage. And then the veteran fouled off an inside fastball from Colorado’s Christian Friedrich in the bottom of the first inning, drilling it down the left-field line, and suddenly everything felt right again.
Wait, a foul ball might be the key to snapping out of a slump?
“It really can, yeah,” Werth said. “I think that was that pitch, that swing tonight, that foul ball I hit. Hopefully that will be the one to get me going.”
Werth did get going over the course of last night’s game. He wound up 2-for-3 with two doubles, three RBI and two walks, his biggest game in weeks.
“The pitch was probably in off the plate, but I hit it hard,” he said. “The ball found the sweet spot. That’s what you want. I felt like I had made the adjustment I wanted to make. It just kind of gives you some confidence and lets you settle in a little bit up there. The whole night, spitting on pitches that I’ve probably been swinging at — or wailing at — lately. It was good. I’ve been working hard, and I’m glad I came through tonight.”
There was a mechanical adjustment, as well. Working with hitting coach Rick Schu, Werth stood more upright than he had in the past, a seemingly small move that paid big dividends.
“He’s a big guy, so if he tends to get crouched, he tends to get too long with his stride,” manager Matt Williams said. “It’s a minor adjustment, but he stood a little taller at the plate. Gets him on top of the baseball a little bit more, and he was comfortable with that tonight.”
Werth still has a ways to go to get himself completely back on track. His batting average still sits at .269, his slugging percentage at .380, down 152 points from last season.
If he does go on a sustained tear at the plate, he just might be able to credit one well-struck foul ball last night for helping him turn the corner at last.
“I don’t remember the last time I did that,” Werth said. “I felt pretty confident after that and put together a pretty good game. Hopefully I can build on that, and that’s the ticket going forward.”
NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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