In Outfield, Bernadina Out, Langerhans In

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just less than two weeks ago, when center fielder Roger Bernadina arrived from Class AA Harrisburg, a message greeted him.

We'll give him a chance, both the manager and general manager said at the time of Bernadina's promotion to the Washington Nationals.

Yesterday, with one roster move, the message changed. The Nationals, just one night after watching Bernadina ground out to second in the ninth inning of a 2-2 ballgame with the potential winning run on third, ended their experiment with the 24-year-old as a regular center fielder. He was sent to Class AAA Columbus, and versatile outfielder Ryan Langerhans was recalled. Bernadina's 40 at-bats had led to just five hits and one conclusion: Before he can hit top-level pitching, he must shorten his swing.

"A lot of times those kids do well down there and don't think they need to make adjustments, but when they get up here, it's a different ballgame," Manager Manny Acta said.

Bernadina, though disappointed about his departure, understood. "I was struggling," he said.

Until Lastings Milledge returns from his right groin injury -- the team still has no timetable for when he can resume "baseball activities" -- Willie Harris will get the first shot to play center field. Langerhans, who played both center and right in his latest stint with Columbus, called himself ready "to play wherever they tell me."

Peña Might Have Shoulder Checked

The disappearance of Wily Mo Peña's power might be the biggest mystery of Washington's season. An answer -- or at least a clue -- might come if the team elects to have Peña's left shoulder examined during the all-star break, something Acta yesterday called a possibility.

Acta admitted that Peña has been hampered for weeks by a nagging shoulder pain, one that perhaps limits the follow-through on his swing. "But I don't think he will use that or we will use that as an excuse" for his performance, Acta said.

Acta was vague about any medical tests that might be performed because "it's not finalized." Peña, batting .209 with two home runs, declined to comment, saying only that he planned to return home during next week's break.

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