VIERA, Fla. - I wouldn’t want to have been in Roger Berndina’s shoes lately.
Within the last week, the Nationals outfielder has been drilled by a pitch directly on his elbow, had a tooth pulled and gotten hit by another pitch just above the same elbow.
Can’t the baseball gods pick on somebody else for a while?
Bernadina was a late scratch from last night’s game against the Braves because he was still feeling light-headed as a result of having the tooth pulled. He shook off any lingering effects from the dental procedure and was back in there tonight, but didn’t get any relief from the pain he’s been feeling lately.
Yankees lefty Mike O’Connor - a former National - drilled Bernadina in the bottom of the ninth, with the pitch ironically hitting Bernadina barely above a pad which he was wearing to protect his elbow. Those are the breaks sometimes, I guess.
If Chien-Ming Wang is forced to miss an extended period of time because of the left hamstring injury he suffered today, John Lannan is the obvious beneficiary.
Lannan is without a spot in the Nationals’ rotation if Wang is healthy and effective, but should Wang be forced to sit for a while, Lannan would take over the fifth starting spot on the Nats’ staff.
He came into today’s game in the fourth inning, marking the first relief appearance of any kind the 27-year-old can recall making in his professional career. Lannan’s initial results were overwhelmingly positive - he faced the minimum in his first two innings, stringing out two - but he struggled mightily in his final two innings, allowing six runs (four earned), six hits and a walk.
“The first and second (innings), and in the bullpen, I felt unbelievable,” Lannan said. “I don’t know what it was (in the final two innings). I don’t know what happened, but the ball rose, and I was trying to get the ball down. I’m just happy I got the work in and got through four innings.
“They weren’t getting solid contact, but they were getting enough contact to put it in the outfield and base-hit me to death. But I felt good. I got my work in. I’m not used to coming in in the third; I tried to do my best to kind of follow my routine, but it’s something I’ve never done before.”
Lannan said that he felt he had a good mindset entering the game, but was thrown off a bit when Wang went down. Still, the lefty looked incredibly sharp in those first two frames before things went awry.
Manager Davey Johnson put the bulk of the blame for Lannan’s late struggles on, yes, you guessed it: Overthrowing.
That’s been a common theme among Nationals hurlers this spring.
“It’s tough to come in the middle of the ballgame, but the way he started the game, he was pitch-efficient, hitting his spots,” Johnson said. “And then the third inning, he came out and like some of our starters, he looked like he was overthrowing. Couldn’t quite get back in his rhythm. Showed arm strength, but was overthrowing.”