Roger Bernadina started in center field for the Netherlands in their opening game of the World Baseball Classic in Taiwan on Saturday and finished 1 for 5 with a double and two RBI in a 5-0 upset win over South Korea, a 2009 finalist. Bernadina, a native of the Dutch constituent island of Curacao, is playing in his first WBC for his country and is the lone Nationals position player participating in the event.
Following along on television in the clubhouse in Viera, Fla., this morning, Bernadina’s Nationals teammates cheered when he smacked the RBI double in the seventh inning.
“It was a really exiting first game yesterday,” Bernadina said in e-mail to the Post late Saturday night. “Came back to the hotel [quite] late after the game, woke up a little sore this morning after a 9 inning play but my motivation to play for my country makes me feel strong again!”
Saturday was the most Bernadina has played this spring, as he left before spring training games began.
Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said he would be pulling for the Netherlands. He briefly managed the Dutch national team during the 2003 European Championships and then served as the bench coach during the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Also worth nothing, former Nationals starter Chien-Ming Wang threw six scoreless innings for Taiwan in a 4-1 in win over Australia in its opening-round game. Wang, who was ineffective last season as he battled hamstring and hip injuries, allowed only four hits in his start, which is amazing given the 65-pitch limit for starters in the first round. The right-hander has said he wants to play in the majors later this season.
Oddly enough, the Netherlands’ next game is against Taiwan at 1:30 a.m. Sunday and televised on MLB Network.
“It feels great to beat the Korean team, we played a good defense. We have a great team spirit,” Bernadina said. “Ready for today’s game!”