Jayson Werth acts very Jayson Werthy in Philly

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Jayson Werth is a bit of an odd duck. He’s not a cliche guy. Indeed, he’s something of a curious speaker for a ballplayer. Hard to explain it exactly, but when you hear interviews with him you can sort of tell that he’s on a different mental track than a lot of baseball players. He’s often frank, but even when he’s not being frank he’s got a curious way of expressing himself. And there’s an emotional aspect to it too. Just different, ya know?

One of the other things about him is that he has, several times in the past, acknowledged fans and their behavior in ways most players don’t. Like, he’ll get into it and you can tell he pays way more attention to fan behavior than the vast majority of players who tune it out for the most part.

All of which just makes this story from last night’s Phillies-Nats game exceedingly Jayson Werthy. Late in the game, Werth was on the on deck circle when a ball came his way. He fake-tossed it to some kids in the crowd but then threw it into the dugout. Boos, predictably, rained down.  But Werth says it wasn’t like that. From John Finger at CSNPhilly:

“Earlier in the game I flipped a ball into the seats to a fan and it flipped off her hand and landed on someone else’s lap. Then a guy reached over — a Phillies fan — and grabbed the ball off her lap and threw it back onto the field,” Werth explained. “In the ninth I was going to flip the ball to a group of kids and behind them was all these unruly, middle-aged men who to me appeared to be snarling. It’s the ninth, so who knows. I got the sense that maybe they were intoxicated. I was going to flip it to the kids and then thought maybe not because of the group behind the little innocent children there, remembering what happened earlier in right field.”

Well, whatever, but “these unruly, middle-aged men who to me appeared to be snarling,” is the sort of phrase you’d expect to hear from some society man with a thin mustache as he tried to throw suspicion off of him while he’s being interviewed by detectives for an unexplained murder.

Turns out later, though, that the guy did kill the victim, outside of the opera house, while trying to make it look like random street crime.  An inheritance was involved, I figure. Not sure yet. Haven’t worked out all of the details yet. He obligingly tells the whole story to the cops with drama and exposition before the credits roll.

Must-read: A profile on former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, currently in jail for alleged murders of three men

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Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.

Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.

Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.

Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.

Pedro Martinez: “If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him.”

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On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.

Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:

If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.

Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.

Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.

The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.