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By Adam Kilgore
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Strasburg to have surgery on Friday

Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery Friday in Los Angeles, General Manager Mike Rizzo said Tuesday.

Lewis Yocum, who also performed Jordan Zimmermann's ligament-replacement surgery, will perform the surgery with Nationals team physician Wiemi Douoguih assisting in the operating room.

On Monday, Yocum gave Strasburg physical tests and "was surprised he could deal" with them, Rizzo said. "He tested very well." Yocum then administered a second arthrogram, which revealed the same significant tear in the ulnar collateral ligament as a previous exam.

Following the surgery, Strasburg will rehab at the Scripps Clinic outside his native San Diego. Strasburg is scheduled to report to Viera, Fla., for spring training with the rest of the Nationals in late January or February. If he remains on the typical schedule, Strasburg will be able to throw again in four months.

"He's dealing with it like a professional," Rizzo said. "He's very determined to get it done and start the process of rehabbing."

Bernadina's boost

The Nationals' offense heated up in the first three games since Manager Jim Riggleman moved Roger Bernadina to the third spot in the order. The Nationals scored 27 runs and won all three games comfortably - with Bernadina going 6 for 14 with a homer, a double, a triple and a walk - entering Tuesday's game at Florida.

With Josh Willingham out for the season, Bernadina's place in the heart of the lineup makes perfect sense. His 105 OPS+ ranks fourth this season among the Nationals' qualifying batters, behind Ryan Zimmerman (144), Adam Dunn (142) and Willingham (128).

The one potential obstacle with Bernadina as the regular No. 3 hitter: "We haven't faced a left-handed pitcher yet while he's been hitting third," Riggleman said.

Riggleman quickly added the Nationals would like to look at Bernadina against left-handed starters, which would add another layer to their year-long evaluation of the rookie.

"I really didn't know exactly what to expect," Riggleman said. "With increased playing time and health, he's really been able to show what he can do. I don't know yet. This really may be exactly what he is right here. He may just be scratching the surface. We've got another month to go to find out."

Bernadina has only 43 plate appearances this year against left-handers, hitting .243 with a .310 on-base percentage and a .486 slugging percentage. In 307 plate appearances against right-handers, he's at .279/.333/.432. More and more, Riggleman has let Bernadina hit for himself against left-handed relievers.

"He's either gotten better against lefties, or maybe he was good all along and we just weren't playing him against lefties," Riggleman said. "I'm not sure which it is, but he's doing fine. He's held in there pretty good. We could get to the point where he's out there every day."

- Adam Kilgore


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