When players head to rehab assignments, they are not always familiar with the stadiums, their new teammates, and the way things are done. Jayson Werth had been to the Pfitzner Stadium before to rehab with the Potomac Nationals. They love him there. He pulled up to the side door in his white Porsche Panamera. I asked my former neighbor if that was the same Porsche he was driving back in 2011 when it was new and he hit a deer on his way home from a game. “Yep”, JDub told me with a smile. Jayson signed autographs for the 6 autograph seekers who were hanging out hours before the 5 pm first pitch. Soon a clubhouse attendant emerged to move Werth’s Porsche from harm’s way of incoming foul balls to the safer reaches out in the player’s lot far beyond the rightfield wall.
Trea Turner arrived by walking up from the parking lot and didn’t sign any autographs. I spoke to one person holding an art print of Nationals Park with dozens of signatures on it. He said Trea Turner snubbed him telling him “I’m in a hurry”. I ensured him that Trea is a good guy. Sure enough during “stretch” Trea signed his art print, and Trea signed for about the 40 fans who were clamoring for his autograph.
After Trea signed the autographs, I helped navigate the way to the batting cage. Jayson Werth was already inside the cage pounding baseballs. Within seconds there was a very respectful line set up by dozens of fans observing the duo pounding baseballs.
Quickly it was game time and the players were in their comfort zones. The rest was how it is on a MLB field or a High-A field. Line up for the Star Spangled banner, and ready for “Play Ball”!
Jayson Werth has his timing down and unleashed a smash to the left-centerfield gap that was either going to be a home run or a double. It just missed going over the wall and Werth had a stand-up double. Trea Turner is still getting his timing down and hit a few flyballs to rightfield.
Both players looked great! Trea was wearing his “player’s weekend” custom cleats with the Roadrunner on them. Trea told me that Under Armour got them done for him and he didn’t know the artist. If you’re into some of the custom cleats and bats the players are using on Player’s Weekend check out the site What Pros Wear.
Trea Turner who was born on June 30, 1993 is actually younger than 12 players on the Potomac Nationals roster. The 38-year-old Jayson Werth is 5-months younger than the PNats pitching coach, Franklin Bravo, who was throwing batting practice to him in the cage. Trea hugged it out with Taylor Gushue who he knows from back home in West Palm Beach where they are both from, and in the small world category Trea and Taylor played on the same PBC PAL travel team one summer (h/t to Trea’s family for that tidbit). Guys like Trea give these players hope that they can make it to the “bigs” also.
The rehabbing players usually leave gifts behind for the guys like some of their better quality bats, and a catered meal for them to enjoy as a thank you for their hospitality. These players for the PNats got to play with two “star” Major Leaguers in their line-up. In contrast, last night’s Washington Nationals line-up had only one player from the opening day starting line-up, Daniel Murphy, compared to the two the PNats had. That might explain the rather large crowd on-hand at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia to see their favorite players up close in an atmosphere that allows for a more personal touch and feel then you would get in a big-league park.