Kobernus did not get shot this time, but his versatility is making statement

Triple-A Syracuse second baseman Jeff Kobernus has had an outstanding start to his 2013 campaign, getting in the conversation about a possible callup to the Nationals.

In the end, at least this time, the Nationals decided to go with Eury Perez while Jayson Werth is on the disabled list with an injured hamstring.

But that does not take away from what the hot-hitting Kobernus has displayed this season or from his emerging versatility.

The 24-year-old Kobernus was hitting .371 through Thursday for Syracuse, with eight extra-base hits, 15 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and 23 runs scored.

The Nationals have employed the Cal-Berkeley star at second base, third base, left field, center field and even shortstop.

Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said this was part of the plan the organization had for Kobernus before the Tigers selected him in the Rule 5 draft.

“He got different opportunities with that in the spring with Detroit, getting experience in the outfield,” Harris said. “It really fits his skill set. It allows his athleticism to come out.”

General manager Mike Rizzo said seeing Kobernus do so well in the outfield during spring training convinced the Nationals it was the right move.

“He plays well in the outfield,” Rizzo said. “He played well in the spring training with Detroit in the outfield. He gives us a lot of flexibility. It gives us more versatility and gives us more options of how he can make the roster and stay on the roster.”

Harris believes the drive and determination to keep learning that Kobernus demonstrated each workout and each game made the transition easier.

“I think it fits his personality,” Harris said. “He is a guy that likes different challenges and he really has taken the bull by the horns and has done a nice job with it.”

Harris said that the Nationals’ Rule 5 returnees this season - pitcher Danny Rosenbaum and Kobernus - learned from their experiences with the Rockies and Tigers, and they can back more self-assured on the field.

“Both of them have a different comfort level and a little different presence than we have seen in the past,” Harris said. “I think that this has actually shown up on the field.”

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