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Jayson Werth homered and singled during the Nationals' 12-0 victory today.
"I hit my truck," Werth said.
At least, that's how the story will be told to Werth's kids and grandkids. The Nationals right fielder couldn't confirm that his first-inning blast off Harvey actually struck his white pickup truck, but he didn't want to let that little uncertainty get in the way of a good urban legend.
"I've got to go out there and check it out," he said. "If it is dented or smashed or cracked or shattered, I kind of foresee it staying that way for a while. I think they're just messing with me. Who knows? We'll see. I'll keep you posted."
Werth's dented truck may be fiction, but this much is fact: He's hitting the ball as well this spring as he has since he first donned a Nationals uniform. Today's 2-for-5 performance raised his batting average to .281, his slugging percentage to a hefty .656.
Yes, it's spring training and it's only 32 at-bats over 12 games. But for Werth, it's about more than the numbers. It's about being comfortable with his surroundings.
"Probably more than people realize, for me anyways," he said. "I'm kind of a feel guy. I feel my way in the game, and I feel good. I feel settled. This is home for me now versus coming into last year where I didn't know what to expect, didn't really know anybody. Now I kind of feel like this is my team and I'm part of the action here. It's going to be good in the upcoming years, and we've got a good rapport with everybody in the clubhouse versus not really knowing anybody. It's definitely a different feel. It's a good feeling."
In the wake of Werth's disappointing first season in Washington, manager Davey Johnson has attempted this spring to help make his $126 million outfielder feel more comfortable. Despite early talk of moving Werth to center field, Johnson has put him back in right field in an attempt to keep his 32-year-old body in better shape over the full season.
Johnson also has hoped to keep Werth in one lineup spot for most of the year, likely sixth if everyone else remains healthy. Unfortunately, both Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche are questionable to recover from injuries in time for Opening Day, so Werth is likely to begin the season hitting cleanup.
It wouldn't be an ideal situation, especially considering how much Werth bounced around the lineup last season. But he's on board with the plan.
"That's fine. That makes sense," he said. "That's no problem. If my swing is good, I can hit anywhere in the lineup. If my swing's not good, it doesn't really matter."
No one's asking Werth to put up cleanup hitter numbers, but the Nationals are expecting better things from him in his second season, especially after seeing glimpses of it late in 2011.
"He's been a different guy," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "He's hit the crap out the ball. I think starting the second half of last year, he really started being the guy that everybody saw in Philly and then what made us go get him. It wasn't easy for him to come over and have a whole new atmosphere and all that kind of stuff. I think you're going to see a big-time change this year."
If you own a truck and park it anywhere near the stadium, you've been warned.