Jayson Werth enjoys the boos, discusses possible Phillies reunion

Jayson Werth enjoys the boos, discusses possible Phillies reunion

Seven years later, Phillies fans still haven't forgiven Jayson Werth for signing with the division-rival Nationals.

Even though it's ludicrous to blame the guy for taking a $126 million contract.

Werth, who on Friday hit a three-run homer in the Phillies' home opener that broke the game open and eventually proved crucial in a 7-6 win, was booed lustily by the Citizens Bank Park crowd when his name was announced pregame.

Clearly unbothered by it, Werth tipped his cap to the crowd.

He enjoys the give and take.

"What? What happened?" Werth said jokingly when asked about his response to the boos. "I was just happy to be back in Philadelphia."

It is a bit surprising that this many years later, Phillies fans haven't gotten over Werth's departure. The Phillies' offer to him in the winter of 2010 was for about one-third of what the Nationals offered. How many people would turn down a raise that massive, one that not only sets you up for life but also sets up generations and generations of your family?

Werth did say some things on his way out the door that rubbed Phillies fans the wrong way. That explains some of it.

One reporter asked Werth whether he thinks he'll ever come to Philadelphia and get a positive reception.

"I don't know, do you? Maybe next year," he said.

Next year? 

"Nothing really surprises me in this game anymore," he said. "I do know that I am a free agent after the end of the year …"

Werth said it in a half-joking tone, but the point was basically, those who hate you today can love you tomorrow.

Either way, that reunion won't happen. It wouldn't make sense given all the outfielders in the Phillies' farm system, where they are in their rebuild and the fact that Werth turns 38 in May.

Yes, he turns 38 in May. Time flies, doesn't it? This is Werth's seventh season with the Nationals, and his homer Friday was his 101st with Washington. He's already played in 199 more regular-season games with the Nats than he did with the Phillies.

Still, though, Werth's best days came in Philly. It was where he established himself as an everyday player and where he laid the foundation for that nine-figure payday. In four seasons with the Phillies, Werth hit .282 with a .380 on-base percentage, and in his final two seasons here hit 63 home runs.

"I've always loved this place," he said hours after delivering the decisive blow to spoil the Phils' home opener (see game story). "The fans and playing in this ballpark, it means a lot to me."

Phillies Notes: A setback for Aaron Nola? Howie Kendrick an option at first base?

Phillies Notes: A setback for Aaron Nola? Howie Kendrick an option at first base?

LOS ANGELES — Aaron Nola is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but that's not going to happen.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin on Saturday indicated that the pitcher's recovery from a lower back strain was not going as smoothly as hoped.

Did Nola experience a setback?

"If you want to call it that," Mackanin said.

Nola threw a bullpen session on Friday and, according to Mackanin, did not bounce back as well as hoped.

"After he completed it, he had some symptoms, some soreness or tightness, I guess," Mackanin said. "It was decided he will not make his start on Monday. He will be reevaluated to determine his next bullpen.

"A couple of days ago he said he felt great and then [Friday] not so great. He's improving but he's not 100 percent. There's something bugging him. We're just going to take it day to day. We're being cautious with him this early in the season."

Nola experienced soreness in his lower back after his last start, April 20 against the Mets. The Phils have been filling the opening on their pitching staff with reliever Mark Leiter Jr. Nick Pivetta will be activated on Sunday and make his major-league debut with a start against the Dodgers.

Kendrick works at first base
First baseman Tommy Joseph and catcher Cameron Rupp, both hitting under .200, were not in the starting lineup on Saturday night as Mackanin went heavy on lefty hitters against Dodgers' righty Brandon McCarthy.

Mackanin stressed that he doesn't like to make judgments on hitters until they get around the 100 at-bat mark — Joseph has 63; Rupp 50 — but it's worth noting that first baseman Rhys Hoskins and catcher Jorge Alfaro are both off to hot starts at Triple A and could be eventual replacements if the club looks for more production.

There also could be another option brewing at first base.

Howie Kendrick has worked at first base during batting practice the last two days. On Friday, he merely tracked balls off the bat and worked on first-step breaks. He did so with a regular fielder's glove.

But on Saturday, Kendrick brought his first baseman's mitt to the field. He took some groundballs and throws from across the diamond.

This stuff doesn't happen just by accident.

Over an 11-season career, Kendrick has played in 89 games at first base. He opened the season as the Phillies' leftfielder and hit .333 (13 for 39) with an .883 OPS before suffering an oblique injury two weeks ago in Washington. Kendrick probably needs at least another week of recovery time before coming off the disabled list, but it's now reasonable to wonder if he will go back to left field or get time at first base when he returns. Using Kendrick at first would allow the Phillies to keep Aaron Altherr's bat in the lineup in left field.

Joseph can have a say in all this if he gets his bat going. He is hitting .190 (12 for 63) with just a .505 OPS.

Last May, it was Joseph who earned his way to the majors after his hot start in Triple A coincided with Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf struggling in the majors. Joseph got 347 plate appearances in the majors last season and hit .257 with 21 homers, 47 RBIs and a .813 OPS.