Welcome to the Nationals, Denard Span, and enjoy your new corner outfielders, Bryce Harper in left and Jayson Werth in right.
“They got their own sign language out there,” Span, the Nationals’ new center fielder, said Monday morning. “I’m trying to pick up on it, just the communication part of it, what they like to do, what they like to say to each other.”
“Jayson Werth, it's like he plays charades out there,” Span continued. “He’s out there, giving me all different types of hand signals. I think the last game we played with each other, I looked at him like, ‘What are you doing?’ He just started laughing.
“I think he was just playing with me. Somebody was on the mound, he was looking at his watch, going like this (raising his hands above his head). I got back to the dugout and said, ‘What the heck were you trying to tell me?’ And he said, ‘Man, this guy is a human rain delay.’ I’m just like, ‘You’ve got to give me some note cards or something, so I can know what is going on.’”
Werth, smiling, said that he is only trying to welcome Span, whom the Nationals acquired from the Twins last Nov. 29 for pitching prospect Alex Meyer.
“This is a pretty loose club. I don’t think he’s ever played on a team as loose as this,” Werth said. “I’m just messing with him a little bit. But that’s part of it. You get to learn each other. You’ve got to start somewhere.”
Actually, there is a method to Werth’s madness.
Outfielders stand too far away from each other to communicate verbally, so Werth said that he indeed used hand signals to relay messages to his previous center fielders, Shane Victorino with the Phillies and Harper with the Nationals.
“When I had Victorino in center, he’s a mess,” Werth said. “He has so much energy. For him to stand still or not talk or not communicate . . .
“Bryce, I had to lead Bryce around like a little puppy dog for half the year (in 2012). And he figured it out. Now Denard seems like he knows what he’s doing. I don’t have to position him every pitch.”
Still, it’s spring training. And Werth is a little bored.
Outfielders, as Werth noted, “are a long way from the action.” And Grapefruit League exhibitions, particularly in the early spring, can get monotonous.
During the season, Werth said that his signals are on point. But for now, he is keeping things fresh and fun while trying to engage Span.
Span, according to Werth, doesn’t talk at all in the outfield. Harper, according to Span, does not engage in Werth-like antics.
“All three of us are on the same page. But you know Jayson. He does some different things,” Span said, smiling.
Span should stay alert. Werth doesn’t plan to stop.
“Denard looks at me and just shakes his head half the time,” Werth said. “I laugh, and I look over at Bryce, and he’s laughing. We’re having a good time out there.”