Back in Philly for the first time since leaving for Washington, Jason Werth was mostly met with booing when he stepped up to the plate in the first inning Tuesday night, with some applause mixed in.
Werth, standing outside the batter's box, responded by taking off his helmet and tipping it to the fans, which seemed to win them over. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.
The Phils went on to win the game 4-1 behind a complete game from Cole Hamels.
When Werth ran out to right field in the bottom of the first, the fans behind him cheered. He took off his cap and again acknowledged the crowd, drawing a roar of approval.
"I'm looking forward to it. Obviously, it's going to be interesting," Werth said before the 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."
But some fans weren’t so happy to see him.
One large banner in right field read, "Werth-less you bad-mouthed the Phillies. Now we're bad-mouthing you. Boo!"
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 signed a $126-million, seven-year deal with the Nationals last winter, after spending four seasons in Philadelphia where he developed into an All-Star outfielder after nearly giving up on baseball because of a wrist injury.
Werth is off to a slow start with the Nationals this season and entered the game 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…It's a pleasure to manage him. I don't see anything in his actions that implicates he's under pressure," said Nats manager Jim Riggleman.
Werth is tied for ninth on the all-time list for postseason homers with 13 and 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 fgure 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."
It seems Werth and Philly fans have come to an understanding after Tuesday night’s game.