The Nationals have an outfield spot open as Michael Morse serves as the designated hitter in American League parks, and Roger Bernadina could be the biggest beneficiary. On Sunday, Bernadina made his first start since May 30 and took advantage, going 2 for 4 with a game-winning double in the ninth inning. Tonight, Bernadina is back in the lineup, playing center between Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper.
“He’s been swinging the bat pretty good here lately,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “You’re going to see more of him, probably.”
Rick Ankiel had become the Nationals’ regular center field before Morse returned last, but Johnson has chosen Bernadina over him the past two days. Ankiel is a standout defender and owns perhaps the strongest arm in the sport. But he is also 8 for his last 60 (.151) with 25 strikeouts. Johnson has used him as a defensive replacement late in games for Lombardozzi, an inexperienced outfielder.
In 107 plate appearances this season, Bernadina is hitting .250/.340/.402 with two homers. Against right-handed pitchers, he has a .350 on-base percentage.
Sunday, Bernadina provided his biggest hit of the season, a scorched double to right field that scored Bryce Harper from first base in the ninth inning. “I did whatever I had to do to get us the win,” Bernadina said.