The Nationals' outfielder has been booed all season by the same fans who cheered him for during four years in Philadelphia, where he was an All-Star in 2009 and helped lead the Phillies to the World Series title in 2008.
Those jeers peaked in decibel level Wednesday night when Werth feigned throwing a foul ball into the first-base stands before dropping it into the dugout. As he strolled to the plate moments later in a one-run game in the ninth, the fans let him have it.
Werth told his side of the story after the game.
"Well, earlier in the game, I flipped a ball in the seats in right field to a fan, and it bounced off her hands and landed on somebody else's lap, and then a Phillies fan reached over into her lap, grabbed the ball and threw it back on the field," Werth said.
"In the ninth, when I got the ball, I was going to flip the ball to a group of kids, and behind the kids were these unruly middle-aged men that, to me, appeared to be snarling. And it's the ninth. Who knows. I kind of got the sense that maybe they were intoxicated, but maybe not.
"So I was going to flip it to the kids, and then I thought maybe I shouldn't because of the people right behind those innocent little children there, so I just flipped it into the dugout, and evidently that rubbed some people the wrong way. But after the events in right field, I just felt that it was better to maybe not throw it into the stands."
Werth appears to relish the villain role after departing the Phillies in December 2010 to join the up-and-coming Nationals. He delivered a two-RBI hit in that at-bat Wednesday and seems to have gotten the last laugh as the Nats are on the brink of clinching the National League East while the Phils are on the brink of elimination. The Phillies have won the previous five NL East titles.
"Jayson thrives on that kind of stuff. When it's all stacked up against him, he comes through," shortstop Ian Dessmond said. "I think when they started going it got his heart beating a little bit. I think it locked him in a little more."
Werth has not played great at Citizens Bank Park this year -- he entered Thursday batting .200 with 10 strikeouts, five more than at any other road park -- but that hit was one of his biggest in a Nationals uniform. And he says the reception he received isn't enough to make him forget the times he had in Philadelphia.
"It's really just part of playing in Philadelphia," Werth said. "That's what makes it great. I had a lot of fun here. I had a lot of good times and wouldn't trade those for the world. I've got a lot of respect for those guys over there. True professionals. Guys I've played some big games with, won some big games with. Got a lot of respect for those guys."