Left fielder Roger Bernadina’s big bat has returned at just the right time, helping to ignite the Nationals’ offense two games in a row.
Down 2-0 at Pittsburgh Thursday, Bernadina crushed a solo homer to cut the Pirates lead to 2-1. The Nationals eventually won the game, 4-2.
Friday, Bernadina taxed Cincinnati starter Mike Leake for 10 pitches in the first frame before blasting a two-run homer over the right-center-field fence to give the Nats a 2-0 lead. Washington rolled to a 7-3 opening series win against the Reds.
Bernadina showed incredible patience at the plate during those at-bats and has displayed a more thoughtful strategy at the plate, replacing his old, windmill swing with a swifter motion.
Later, in the second inning, he forced Leake to throw seven pitches before lacing a clean single off the curveball that scored Wilson Ramos and made it 4-0, Nationals.
Manager Davey Johnson was happy to see Bernadina be able to get that single after the roundtripper in the first.
“I don’t want him to (be) thinking about hitting home runs,” Johnson said during “Nats Xtra” postgame.
Johnson said they have worked with Bernadina on his approach, and they can see the difference it makes at the plate.
“His stride is shorter,” Johnson continued. “He is quicker to the ball. He is a better hitter right now. I like what I am seeing there. I don’t like when he jumps at the pitcher and takes a big hack. I like the short, compact (swing). He got a good base hit to drive in a run by hitting a breaking ball the other way. That is what he needs to focus on.”
With Jayson Werth out for at least two months and now Bryce Harper missing a couple of games with the cut near his left eye, Bernadina’s left-handed bat will be critical as the Nationals attempt to not miss a beat with the 25 players they have on the roster.
Consistent at-bats are what any player wants to show that they can indeed play, and now “The Shark” has his shot.