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Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Jayson Werth happy with Nats

By Jerry Crasnick
ESPN.com

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth is in a major funk these days, but in spite of his struggles, he said he has no regrets about the seven-year commitment he made to the club in December.

Werth I see the future of this organization and where it's going, and I'm really satisfied and I really like it here. When I'm in my seventh year, I think I'll look back and go, 'That was a really good career move.'

-- Jayson Werth

Werth is hitting .221 with 30 RBIs in 83 games, and his lack of production already has created one bizarre plot twist this season.

During a May trip to Philadelphia, where he played previously, Werth received two standing ovations from the Citizens Bank Park crowd. In Washington, he's become the target of frequent and more pronounced booing in recent weeks from fans who expected a lot more in return for the Nationals' $126 million investment.

Contrary to some speculation in baseball circles, Werth is not suffering from a case of signer's remorse.

"I definitely want to (dispel) the idea that I'm not happy,'' Werth told ESPN.com. "Other than my offensive production -- which I'm OK with because I know it's going to turn around -- I'm happy with my decision.

"I definitely miss my teammates in Philly and I miss playing there and all that. But I've turned the page and I feel good about my decision. I see the future of this organization and where it's going, and I'm really satisfied and I really like it here. When I'm in my seventh year, I think I'll look back and go, 'That was a really good career move.' "

Werth is hitting only .161 (18 for 112) since the start of June, and he's homerless in 69 at-bats going back to a solo shot off the St. Louis Cardinals' Kyle Lohse on June 16.

The Nationals are a game over .500 at 44-43, even though Werth ranks fifth among the team's regular position players with a .703 OPS. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who missed two months with an abdominal injury, is right behind Werth at .697.

Werth landed in the middle of a celebration Monday when he stole third base and scored on a wild pitch in the 10th inning to lead Washington to a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs. But the booing resumed in earnest Tuesday when he struck out twice, grounded into a double play and left six runners on base in a 3-2 win over Chicago.

After the game, Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters that he believes Werth has "bottomed out" and is destined to turn things around soon.

"Early in the year, I think he was playing mentor to the younger guys a little more than he needed," Johnson said. "But he's a heck of a ballplayer. I know he's going to start doing the things he's capable of.

"He's not really worried as far as I can see, and I've had a lot of conversations with him. When he comes out, he's going to come out big."

Senior writer Jerry Crasnick covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com.