Mariners notebook: Tacoma’s Werth retires from baseball

The longtime Philadelphia and Washington outfielder couldn’t shake lingering hamstring issues.

By TJ Cotterill

The News Tribune

Jayson Werth has retired from baseball, his career ending during his brief tenure playing for Triple-A Tacoma in the Seattle Mariners’ organization this season.

Werth, a former National League All-Star and a staple for years with the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals, struggled with recurring hamstring issues for the Rainiers this season in his attempt to prolong his career.

The 39-year-old headed to the disabled list on June 9 and hadn’t played since. The news was first reported by Jon Heyman of Fancred sports and Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto later confirmed it to The News Tribune.

Dipoto said Werth informed the Mariners of his decision late last week.

Werth signed with the Mariners as a minor-league free agent on April 3 and reported to extended spring training in Arizona before joining Triple-A Tacoma on April 23. He wasn’t the first Werth to play for the Rainiers. His stepfather, Dennis Werth, played for the Tacoma Yankees in 1978.

Werth won a World Series ring in 2008 with the Phillies and two seasons ago he hit .244 with 21 home runs in 143 games for Washington, before hitting .226 with 10 homers in 70 games for the Nationals last year.

And it didn’t get much better in Tacoma. Werth played in 36 games and hit four home runs with 11 doubles, while hitting .206 with a .297 on-base percentage, splitting time at designated hitter and left field. Though, he did get on a run, hitting home runs in three consecutive games in the middle of May.

“I’m done … whatever you want to call it,” he told Fancred Sports.

Werth’s best chance of returning to the big leagues came in late May, just after that three-home-run streak with the Rainiers. The Mariners were without Mitch Haniger in Oakland for a game because he had been hit by a pitch, so they needed an extra outfielder.

Dipoto said they were deciding whether to select Werth from Tacoma, but Werth’s hamstring was bothering him. All indications at the time even seemed to point to Werth because he was pulled after two at-bats with the Rainiers at about the same time Haniger left the Mariners’ game that May 22 day.

Instead, the Mariners selected John Andreoli for his big-league debut.

“Those conversations really did revolve around Jayson Werth and John Andreoli,” Dipoto said. “Jayson did start to recently heat up with the bat and the timing wasn’t great on this one. But sure did make life a lot easier in making a decision and this came down to John Andreoli and how well he had played.”

Werth’s minor league contract was set to expire at the end of May, but both sides agreed to delay the opt-out date following Werth’s hamstring issues.

Cruz out, again

Nelson Cruz’s back was feeling less sore on Wednesday than it did Tuesday, when he was scratched from his cleanup spot at designated hitter shortly before the game because of tightness.

But the Mariners chose to hold their slugger out again for the third of their four-game series against the Orioles at Camden Yards just for precaution.

“Nellie feels much better,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters prior to Wednesday’s game. “But in talking to our medical staff, we thought it was best to give him an extra day. It’s tough not putting him in the lineup. He does feel better and it’s moving in the right direction.”

Cruz experienced back spasms Tuesday morning, preventing him from playing in a hitter-friendly Camden Yards, where Cruz spent the 2014 season, hitting .271 and leading the American League with 40 home runs.

So Servais slotted Mitch Haniger into the DH role Wednesday, with Guillermo Heredia, Denard Span and Ben Gamel in the outfield. Entering this Baltimore series, Servais said he wanted to find a way to give Haniger a day off. He’s played each of the past 31 games and has only missed one game this season.

“He’s really been grinding,” Servais said. “So this actually works out good for him. We get to get him off his feet but still get to keep his bat in the lineup.”

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