ATLANTA - Roger Bernadina said last night that he felt fine after slamming into the left field wall while making a leaping catch, but manager Davey Johnson reported today that Bernadina has a bit of a stiff neck.
That factored into Johnson’s decision to put Steve Lombardozzi in the lineup in left field.
“Lombo’s got 50 percent of his home runs off this guy,” Johnson said with a smile, referring to Braves starter Tommy Hanson.
Lombardozzi has two career home runs.
Despite the stiff neck, Bernadina is still available to play today.
Michael Morse won’t hit in the cage today, as his left wrist is still sore. Johnson said team trainers have ensured Morse that the wrist won’t get worse by playing, but it’ll be all about pain tolerance.
For now, Morse will continue to rest.
With Morse out, the left field carousel has begun. The Nats had Bernadina in left last night, Lombardozzi there today, and Johnson said that Tyler Moore will start in left field in Sunday’s series finale.
The Braves are sending lefty-handed starter Mike Minor to the mound, so the right-handed hitting Moore will get the call.
Moore has nine home runs in just 140 at-bats this season, an average of one homer per 15.78 at-bats. That’s a total which, if he had enough at-bats to qualify, would have Moore ranked eighth in the majors, just behind slugger Miguel Cabrera and ahead of Mark Trumbo.
What has allowed Moore to have such success this season despite his rookie status and inconsistent playing time?
“He’s got a great stroke,” Johnson said. “He’s got a great approach. The one thing he’s learned to do in a real short time, which all the young guys have learned to do, is make adjustments to be successful. He was a little cautious early on pinch-hitting and not having regular playing time. Your habits when you’re playing regularly, you can take more pitches. He’s made the adjustment knowing he needs to be more aggressive early. He’s done that really well, instead of going up and taking pitches. For a real young guy coming off the bench, he’s been outstanding.”
Moore’s .279 average this season is plenty impressive on its own. But when you consider that 44 percent of Moore’s hits this season have been for extra bases (nine home runs, eight doubles), his accomplishments at the major league level thus far are even more striking.
“I’ve seen his stroke for a few years at different levels,” Johnson said. “He’s got a great stoke. Short and to the point of contact and he knows the difference between a ball and a strike. The criteria for me for a young hitter to be successful up here is: Does he swing at strikes, can he use the whole field and can he track and hit a breaking ball as well as a fastball? He’s always been able to do those things.”