Jayson Werth took the millions and went south down I-95 to play for the Nationals. That alone earned the former Phillies World Series winner plenty of fan disdain in Philly, but Wednesday night the bearded outfielder added fuel to the fire.
“You don’t mess with kids’ souvenirs in Philadelphia.”
That’s what the announcer (not a Phillies announcer) said after Werth took a ball that dribbled over to him in the Nationals on-deck circle, faked throwing it to some kids in the crowd and instead flipped the ball into his team's dugout.
Moments later, boos -- and some nasty language we can’t write here -- rained down on Werth as he stepped into the batter’s box with two on and two out in the top of the ninth. But Werth got the last laugh as he doubled to extend the Nats’ lead to 7-4.
After the Nats’ win Werth explained foul ball behavior to the Washington Post:
“So in the ninth when I got the ball, I was going to flip the ball. There was a group of kids. Behind the kids there were these unruly middle-aged men that to me appeared to be snarling. It’s the ninth. Who knows. I kind of got the sense that maybe they were intoxicated. I was going to flip it to the kids, and then I thought, maybe I shouldn’t, because of the people right behind the innocent little children there.
“So I just flipped it in the dugout. Evidently, that rubbed some people the wrong. After the events in right field, I felt it was better to maybe not throw it in the stands.”
Werth has a history of foul ball issues with Phillies fans and kids. Back in 2010, while playing for the Phightins, he appeared to yell at a Phillies fan sitting with his son along the right field line after the fan came down with a foul ball that strayed into the stands instead of Werth's glove.
The 33-year-old is in his second season in Washington after signing a seven-year, $126-million contract with the Nats following four years in Philly.
After a ho-hum first season in D.C. (.232 batting average, .330 on-base percentage, .389 slugging percentage in 150 games), Werth has battled back from a wrist injury (also suffered against the Phils) to put up impressive numbers (.304/.393/.442 in 75 games).