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Posted at 2:45 PM ET, 02/22/2011

Jayson Werth meets the press

By Adam Kilgore

Jayson Werth pulled on a Nationals uniform for the first time this morning, his wooly beard replaced by a clean-cut goatee. He ran through outfield drills and took batting practice, meeting his most of his new teammates. He knew Matt Stairs from their days as Phillies teammates, and he recalled playing in the Instructional League with Jerry Hairston in 1997, back when they were both Orioles property.

Before he ended his first full day, Werth met with reporters and touched on an array of topics. He implied that the centerfield position, in his opinion, is an open competition. He expressed confidence in the Nationals' offseason and their future. He was nonchalant about his high-profile place on the team.

Here are the highlights from his chat:

On going from a first-place team to a last-place team:
You start at even. No one's won any games or lost any games this year. I've always said I'm up for a challenge and I pull for an underdog. We're in a situation here where it's going to be a challenge. But we're going to do some things that most people think is impossible or we can't do. I love that position.

On the Nationals offseason:
They made some good moves. I still think there's room for improvement. Part of that is the guy's that we do have is them playing and gaining some experience. Just getting out there on the big-league level and playing. But we're full of talent. I'm excited about that. There are some things most people don't know about these guys in here. I've gotten a chance to watch them play from across the diamond. I think we're capable of quite a bit. If we get a piece here, we get a piece there - you know, we got a guy who's out for the season that's probably going to be a pretty big piece of this organization going forward. I'm going to be here for quite some time. I think we're going to be there before people realize it.

On the outfield competition this spring:
We've got an interesting dynamic out there. We've got two spots that are unaccounted for and maybe six or seven guys that could fill that role. It's going to be interesting to see how it shakes out. I think signing Rick Ankiel was a big signing in the offseason, one that really wasn't talked about as much as I thought it should have been. He's a guy who's been injured the last couple years. ... He seems to be healthy, and the guy is a great talent. He's going to be a big help to the team whether it's an everyday role or a bench role. You've got a guy like Matt Stairs who has kind of gone under the radar as well. As spring goes on, I think he'll manage to make a name for himself as well.

On his comfort playing outfield positions:
I can play all three. I think it really just depends on the personnel. If you have a true center fielder, I'm probably better off in right. If you don't, I can play center. I played center whenever Victorino needed a day off or got hurt. There's some time that kind of needs to be taken to get your feet wet, but I've managed to do it a bunch of times.

On where he hits:
1,2 ... I don't care. I think wherever I come to the park and see my name, that's where I'm going to hit. I talked a little bit about the lineup with Jim [Riggleman] the other day. It's just a little too early right now to really pencil anybody in, anyway. When I played in L.A., I hit second. The year we won the World Series in Philly I hit second. The last couple years, Charlie [Manuel] messed around with hitting me third. I hit fifth, sixth. It doesn't change what I'm going to do. I'm open to anything.

On if he'll become tired of hearing about being the highest-paid National:
I don't know. I guess we'll cross that bridge. I obviously the situation that I'm in. I chose this situation. There were other suitors and other teams and other deals. This was the one that I wanted to be in. I wanted to be in that ground-up situation and be part of something. You build a team from what it was and take it to where I think it's going to go, I think that's the type of situation I want to be in.

By Adam Kilgore  | February 22, 2011; 2:45 PM ET
 
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Next: Bryce Harper: 'I'm trying to make this club'

Comments

Interesting that Werth didn't mention batting cleanup at all. I thought that
was pretty much a foregone conclusion. From his comments, not sure if he would feel comfortable in that slot.
The 2 hole? I don't see that. And Zim is 3.
Hmmm.
Vedy interesting.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 22, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

If Riggleman follows his patterns from last year, he'll split up Zim and Werth with the lefty LaRoche.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 22, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I am glad Werth did not mention batting cleanup as he should not be considered a cleanup hitter, he is a gap hitter getting lots of doubles, I think #5 is a good slot for him but #3 could be good too. Laroche is the obvious cleanup man with the only lefthanded bat with pop in the 2011 lineup.

Posted by: markfd | February 22, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

>>If Riggleman follows his patterns from last year, he'll split up Zim and Werth with the lefty LaRoche

I just can't see spending that kind of money on a #5 hitter. Can't believe the Nats put him there. I think they squeeze a square peg into a round hole and stick him cleanup and Roche goes 5.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 22, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Werth could bat 2nd here with Zim 3rd, LaRoche 4th. After that its a whos who depending on the opposing pitcher.

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 22, 2011 8:16 PM | Report abuse

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