PHILADELPHIA - Prior to his release exactly two weeks ago today, Roger Bernadina was the longest-tenured member of the Nationals organization.
Tonight, he’ll face off against his former team for the first time, wearing the colors of a hated division rival.
After having a career season last year, hitting .291/.372/.405 in 261 plate appearances with the Nats, Bernadina’s production dropped off mightily this season. He hit just .178/.247/.270 in 167 plate appearances, with just two homers and six RBIs.
The production wasn’t there, and as a result, neither was the playing time. Bernadina got just 13 at-bats in the 28 games he was with the Nats after the All-Star break, so when he got word that he was being released after the Nats acquired David DeJesus in a trade with the Cubs, Bernadina wasn’t too shocked.
“I wasn’t performing like I wanted to and I didn’t do whatever I needed to do,” Bernadina said seated in the Phillies clubhouse today. “I think it was kind of coming because I wasn’t playing a lot, either. Of course, you still want to end up having a good season, end up good. But that didn’t work out like I wanted to, and they make the decision.
“I understand. It’s a business, and I move on from there. I’m here now and the good thing is I get to play baseball. That’s something that I love to do.”
Two days after his release by the Nats, Bernadina inked a free agent deal with the Phillies, and since then, he’s tried to get acclimated to a new team, coaching staff and overall organizational makeup. For a guy who only knew one major league team before his release, having played 12 seasons in the Nats/Expos system, that might not be as easy as it sounds.
“In the beginning, it was different,” Bernadina said. “They released me and I took some time to think a little bit. Put that a little bit behind me. But I’m glad I’m here. New start. They treat me well, and I’m happy to be a part of the Phillies.
“They went after me right away. That day, they were like, right away, they want me. They were the team that showed the most interest. It was an opportunity to play and I say, ‘Yeah, I want to be here. I want to be a Phillie.’ “
The Phillies are giving Bernadina a chance to show what he can do, that’s for sure. The 29-year-old has played in 11 of the Phillies’ 12 games since signing with Philadelphia, getting 43 at-bats in that time.
Bernadina has shown off his power potential, hitting two homers and two doubles, and he’s made a couple really impressive defensive plays, but his overall offensive numbers haven’t been much different than they were in his time with the Nats this season. He’s hitting .140/.213/.326 in his time with the Phillies.
Despite his new jersey colors, Bernadina still keeps up with a handful of Nationals players. He exchanges text messages with Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond, and got hugs from a number of former teammates on the field at Citizens Bank Park earlier this afternoon.
“We’re all doing the same business, just different team now,” Bernadina said. “But I still love my ex-teammates and the fans, everything around D.C. But I’m looking forward to (tonight). I’m excited.”
Part of tonight’s excitement comes from Bernadina getting to face off against Stephen Strasburg. Bernadina stood in against Strasburg back in the early stages of spring training in a live batting practice session, but that won’t exactly compare to what he’ll see tonight.
“This will be different,” Bernadina said with a laugh. “It’s cool. I’m looking forward to that.”