Bernadina's Big Break Leads to a Bad Break

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 19, 2009

Roger Bernadina, only playing because of a last-minute lineup change, made a spectacular catch against the wall yesterday afternoon. The cheering continued until the stadium realized Bernadina couldn't get up. Bernadina, promoted from Class AAA Syracuse earlier this week, is now bound for the disabled list. While making a leaping catch against the outfield wall, Bernadina fractured his right ankle.

The Washington Nationals must await more detailed tests before they know the severity of Bernadina's injury, but they suspect their outfielder will be out months, not weeks. In the wake of Bernadina's injury, which prompted an immediate disabled list move, the Nationals are expected to recall Justin Maxwell from Class AAA Syracuse and use him in a similar role -- as a defensive specialist and a bench player. Maxwell will be available for today's game, the series finale against Florida.

"That's the reason we brought up Bernadina, and it's the reason why we're bringing up Maxwell," Acting General Manager Mike Rizzo said. "It gives you a defensive guy that can play center, and a guy that is going to come off the bench."

Bernadina's injury occurred in the eighth inning, when Florida's Dan Uggla hit a fly ball to deep center against Joe Beimel. Bernadina gave chase. Mitt extended, he soared toward the warning track. But just as he caught the ball, he crashed into the wall, legs buckling, and crumbled. Manager Manny Acta and trainer Lee Kuntz rushed to assist, and Bernadina remained on the ground for at least a minute. With an arm around Acta, he then exited the field through a gate in center field.

Elijah Dukes immediately replaced him in center -- noteworthy because Dukes had been scheduled to start the game all along. But when he reported late to the ballpark yesterday, Acta and Rizzo decided on the punishment. Dukes was benched and fined.

"He was late for work, he broke a team rule, and we are going to change the culture here -- regardless of how well a guy is playing," Acta said. "And it was a bizarre situation, because he was doing something that we encourage our players to do: He was out in the community doing something for some Little League program and just showed up late to work. He was very remorseful about it. He felt bad, but we have to lay the law on whoever."

CintrĂ³n Joins Nationals

Shortstop Alex CintrĂ³n, recalled from Class AAA Syracuse before yesterday's game, pinch-hit in the seventh inning and struck out against Florida's Logan Kensing.

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