By John Russo
PHILADELPHIA — Jayson Werth doesn’t want to talk much about his recent announcement to sign Scott Boras as his agent.
All Werth has his mind on right now is the first of two crucial series with the Atlanta Braves.
“I’m worried about the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies and winning this division and winning the World Series,” Werth said to reporters before Monday’s game.
The Phillies don’t expect to have the payroll to retain Werth, whose walk-off, two-run homer beat the Washington Nationals, 7-6, on Sunday. But Werth didn’t feel signing with Boras necessarily punched his ticket out of Philadelphia.
“Being in the situation I’m in going into free agency over the past few months, I thought it was time to make a switch,” said Werth. “I don’t think it has anything to do with anything other than wanting the best representation going into free agency.”
Like a lot of people, manager Charlie Manuel would love to hold onto Werth, a free agent after the season who figures to command a five-year contract well in excess of $50 million.
“I’d take it I’d like to keep Jayson Werth but what can I do about it?” Manuel said. “The agent and the money part is none of my business.”
Werth isn’t focused on the offseason yet or even the next game in the series.
“I’m really just taking it one game at a time, one pitch at a time,” Werth said. “I’m trying to have a good at bat my next at-bat. The old cliche thing is, ‘one game at a time,’ and it really holds true and you can’t look too far ahead.
“We have a very big opportunity here and I think everybody’s aware of that. It’s just a matter of going out and continuing to do what we’ve done.”
HAPPY TRAILS — This may very well be Bobby Cox’s last trip to Philadelphia.
That is, pending a trip back in October.
“I’m thinking about this series, but I would love to come back here,” said the Atlanta Braves manager about a hopeful trip in the playoffs.
Cox’s Braves are 86-64 in his final season, trailing the Phillies by three games heading into Monday. They also hold a 2 1/2 game lead on the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card.
A series win would bring them a game closer and a sweep would pull them to a first-place tie.
“It feels like I’m in a race again,” Cox said. “Your stomach gets nervous. I don’t know about the other managers. But you know, every pitch is big and every swing is big.”
Cox is finally hanging up the managerial cleats after 25 years with the Braves and four with the Toronto Blue Jays. But he isn’t ready to look back on his career just yet.
“I don’t think any a manager has until they actually retire, you know,” he mused. “It’s a blur. Baseball careers are a blur. It goes awfully fast.”
NOT OVER YET — Even if the Phillies manage to sweep the Braves in three games, manager Charlie Maneul doesn’t feel that the division is a lock.
“It’s getting there, but it ain’t ever over until it’s over,” said Manuel, channeling Yogi Berra before Monday’s game. “Believe me, the last three or four years Detroit was in first place (late and didn’t make it). And I remember that year in Boston when they painted their (postseason) logo.
“I remember in ’95 when the California Angels sold programs and everything and they had an 11-game lead with 18 to play and they didn’t make it. Now you gotta keep going. You got to play it out.”
And Manuel surely can’t forget 2007 when the Phils closed up a seven-game gap on the Mets with 17 games to play to win their first division title in 14 years.
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