Bernadina gets back in lineup, delivers clutch hit

Left fielder Roger Bernadina returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Friday. He had been struggling at the plate to start the season, hitting a paltry .143 with just one RBI.

But Bernadina hasn’t sulked or moped around the clubhouse during the past few games. He continued to take extra swings to get his rhythm back.

“I have been hitting a lot in the cage,” Bernadina said. “I didn’t feel rushed or anything. I was seeing the ball good. That was an important part to see the ball (better). I felt good out there. I will do whatever I can to get on base.”

Bernadina delivered Wednesday with the biggest hit of the night. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh and still facing Astros starter Lucas Harrell, Bernadina smacked an RBI double that scored Rick Ankiel, tying the game at one. It was Bernadina’s third double in 10 games, and he had gotten the Nationals back in the game. The Nationals eventually would rally to win their third straight, 3-2.

Bernadina said the hit was a reward for a lot of tough at-bats, chances where balls were hit right at someone.

“Right now the ball has not dropped like I want it to,” Bernadina said. “(But) I keep fighting. This is only the 14th game of season. There is still a long way to go. I just have to keep going.”

Bernadina said the extra batting cage work was not to alter his stance, but just constant swings to keep working. And he didn’t get upset if he wasn’t starting that game.

“(It was) just repetition,” Bernadina said of those extra swings in practice. “Even if you come off the bench, just maintain your swing and stay focused at whatever (Johnson) has me doing that day.”

Manager Davey Johnson has said he still believes Bernadina can turn it around. He also believes the offense can get the job done, even if its just enough to win by one run.

“I really have confidence in our offense,” Johnson said. “I really do. (Wilson) Ramos got a big hit, Bernie got a big hit. (I was impressed with) some at-bats where we laid off some pitches out of the zone.”

It was just one hit for Bernadina, but it was a big one. It got his team on the board and kept them in a game they eventually would rally to win. That is what Bernadina needed to build on. It will be interesting to see if this can spur him on to a positive streak, because he has all the athletic ability in the world. He just needs consistency at the plate to stay.

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