With Jayson Werth out for a few months and general manager Mike Rizzo saying he’s not going to trade to acquire an outfielder for the short term, a few guys on the Nationals roster have an opportunity on their hands right now.
There’s playing time to be had in left field, and it’s up to someone to earn it.
Roger Bernadina, step on up.
Bernadina has made a claim for the left field job with his play the last two days, hitting two home runs, driving in four and stealing a base over the Nats’ two consecutive wins.
In that time, Bernadina has raised his average from .184 to .207, a 23-point jump in two games.
He’s settled in nicely into that No. 2 spot in the Nats’ lineup, where his mix of speed and pop plays well, and has allowed Bryce Harper to move down to the five-hole, where he can protect the scorching-hot Adam LaRoche.
LaRoche was intentionally walked twice Wednesday, but has gotten better pitches to hit the last two nights with Harper hitting behind him.
Xavier Nady has been given a shot in left field, but he can’t seem to snap out of an early-season slump and is still hitting a paltry .129 in 62 at-bats. Bernadina is trending upward, however, and has certainly earned himself more playing time by working long, patient at-bats and driving the ball well the last couple games.
Of course, Bernadina has had chances in past seasons, as well. Plenty of them, in fact.
Time and again, Bernadina has been given an opportunity to earn significant playing time in the Nationals’ outfield, and while he’s shown flashes of excellence, the consistency just hasn’t been there.
While he’s 27, Bernadina’s still a bit rough around the edges. He’ll make the fantastic play in the outfield, but will also make the head-scratching one. He’ll spray the ball to all fields one night and then try to do too much the next and look outmatched at the plate.
But if Bernadina can be a bit more consistent and continue to drive the ball, he’ll keep finding his name written onto the Nats’ lineup card.
Davey Johnson is looking for someone to give him some production and stability in left field. Bernadina’s done it the last two nights, and now it’s on him to continue that play while Werth and Michael Morse are sidelined.