A few pregame notes from Nationals Park this evening, before I leave the press box in search of whatever piece of grilled meat is teasing me with that smell:
--Roger Bernadina has played well at right field and is back in the lineup for the Nationals tonight, but manager Jim Riggleman said he hasn't considered giving Bernadina a greater chunk of the at-bats against left-handers, because that would mean taking at-bats away from the team's best hitters against lefties, or putting a domino effect in motion that would keep other players out of the lineup. "I've got to find days in there for (Cristian) Guzman, too. (Adam) Kennedy has handled left-handers well. Kennedy does so many good things for us that you'd like his presence on the field as much as possible." Against left-handers, Guzman is hitting .422/.449/.556, compared to .280/.298/.366 against righties.
But Riggleman did stop just short of anointing Bernadina the team's primary right fielder. "He's got a chance to be really special, that's for sure. All the physical skills are there. It's just playing time," Riggleman said. "It's on Roger to do it. He's not 21 or 22. He's old enough that, 'OK, go out there. We're giving you the job. You've got to keep it and run with it and show us that you can nail that position down and be productive out there. We're really kind of at a point to stand back and watch and see where he goes with it."
--With Tyler Clippard having thrown the last two days, the Nationals are hoping to stay away from him tonight, Riggleman said. That could mean a "big opportunity" for Drew Storen late in the game tonight, Riggleman said. The Nationals are tempering that somewhat because Storen has only thrown on back-to-back days once - at Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday and in his big-league debut on Monday. Storen threw 2/3 of an inning last night, so the Nationals are trying to be careful with him tonight. "There's a lot of things to look at as we bring him in here and try to maximize what he can do for us," Riggleman said. "Clip will still be asked to pitch quite a bit."
--The Nationals sent out an e-mail this afternoon saying outfielder Mike Morse has requested he be called Michael Morse from now on. I don't know what prompted the switch, but maybe it goes with the short haircut that recently replaced Morse's scruffy Jayson Werth look.
OK, now where's that grill? Back in a little bit with the live thread.