Werth & Burnett have History
Life was going well for Jayson Werth in 1997. As an 18 year old high school graduate, he would be drafted in the 1st round, 22nd overall, by the Baltimore Orioles, who finished with an American League best 98 wins. After working his way up through the Orioles and Dodgers minor league systems, he would get a Spring Training invite in 2005 with a chance to become an everyday player for the Dodgers who a year earlier finished atop the National League West with 93 wins.
On his first pitch of his first at-bat against his first big league pitcher, hard throwing A.J. Burnett, a sinker hit his wrist shattering his radius bone. A downward spiral would cause him to miss the remainder of the spring training as well as the first 44 games of the regular season. A second arthroscopic surgery in the off-season caused Werth to miss the entire 2006 season leaving him contemplating ever playing in the big league’s again.
It would not be until a family friend convinced Werth to see Dr. Richard Berger, a specialist at the Mayo Clinic at the time, and recipient of Chicago Magazine’s 2009 Top Doctor Award, that would get him back on the right track. After a successful surgery the Dodgers no longer needed his services so in stepped Pat Gillick, then the General Manager of the Phillies and former General Manager of the Baltimore Orioles that drafted Werth out of high school in 1997. Now a senior advisor in the Phillies organization, Gillick says of Werth, “I thought, with his height, he had all the tools to be a real good catcher. But I also knew he had a few more avenues, a few more opportunities because he was so athletic. He’s sort of unusual from that standpoint.”
And where does this unusual athleticism come from you ask? His mother ran track at the University of Florida. His stepfather, Dennis Werth, was a backup first baseman and utility player for the Yankees and Royals. And his uncle, Dick Schofield, played 14 major league seasons winning a World Series in 1993 with none other than the Toronto Blue Jays.
Werth has matched Uncle Dick’s World Series rings and has one upped him in the stat column. In his last 6 World Series games Werth’s stats, .450/.607/.750. In 20 at-bats he has accumulated 9 hits, three 2-baggers, one 4-bagger, eight walks and three stolen bases.
As per any ill feelings towards AJ Burnett, “I don’t even think about it,” said Werth, “ It could have been anybody.” The last time he face Burnett this past May he roped a 2-run home run in a 7-3 Phillies win going 2 for 4 with a walk, two runs batted in and a run scored. With his recent success in both the World Series and against A.J. Burnett, Werth could lead he Phillies to another World Series victory.