PHILADELPHIA -- Jayson Werth could not help but laugh as he watched video of himself futilely trying to help the Phanatic move his stalled four-wheeler Monday evening at Citizens Bank Park.
He swore he had nothing to do with it.
"It was already done by the time I got over there," Werth said before Tuesday's game. "I tried to help him out a little bit. I'm not very mechanical. I don't know how to hotwire anything."
Werth still feels quite at home at Citizens Bank Park, despite leaving the Phillies following the 2010 season to sign a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Nationals, and hearing boos from Phillies fans. He reminded a reporter he has only two World Series appearances and they both came with the Phillies, which makes them the highlight of his baseball career to this point.
"When I went out to shag flies in right yesterday, it was like going home to your parents' house after you had gone away to school," Werth said. "I went and played baseball, but it's like coming back after that first year and going back to your old bedroom, you know? I remember this room."
During his four-year career with the Phillies from 2007-10, Werth always had the ability to offer keen insight on the team's travails. During one of the team's traditional slow starts or rough stretches, he would calmly remind everybody, including Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, they would be fine. They always played better in the second half, he said.
And they always did.
At the moment, a strong second-half finish is one of the only things the Phillies can hang their hat on.
"I don't know for sure [why], but it just seemed like when our backs were against the wall, that's when we played well," Werth said of those second-half runs. "A lot of those guys were big-game players. We always talked about Jimmy [Rollins], that when the red light was on, the ESPN games and the big games. … I feel like that's kind of how we are over here, too. I think it's going to be interesting coming down at the end. We'll see. I said in Spring Training that I thought the Phillies were going to be good."
Of course, that has not really been the case. The Phillies entered Tuesday's game 34-37 and with the sixth-worst run differential (-48) in baseball.
That has surprised Werth.
"Yeah, a little bit, but we've kind of got our own problems over here," Werth said. "Yeah, it seems like they're not scoring runs, either. We're in the same boat. For us, it seems like we're not matching up. We pitch and not hit. We'll hit and not pitch. Hopefully things will turn and we'll get going. But really I don't mind where we're at.
"We pretty much led wire to wire last year almost, and then you get bounced in the first round of the postseason and it's like, that didn't do us any good, you know? I've been thinking lately this is maybe where we need to be, and as the season goes on, we'll be playing from behind and it's going to really make us push to win. Like those [Phillies] teams in '07 and '08 that came from behind in September. I feel like that's where we really learned how to win, coming from behind like that and playing must-win games. I think it's good for us. We'll see if it works out or not, but I don't mind being where we're at, that's for sure."
There is less of a feeling that the Phillies are laying in the weeds and ready to pounce than there is with the Nationals. But maybe they will. Maybe they will get on another one of those second-half hot streaks. If so, Werth hopes it's not at the Nationals' expense. He had good times in Philadelphia, but he wants to win in Washington.
"I feel like the right-field fans still appreciate me," Werth said. "They'll come around. Maybe [in] 10 years they'll be good to me. It's all good. I always enjoy coming here, for better or worse. Any time I grab lunch or dinner, people go out of their way to say, 'Thanks for 2008.' It's all good."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less