VIERA, Fla. - Michael Morse raised the ante in the Nationals' left field competition on the first day of spring training. Roger Bernadina appears to have matched it.
Bernadina, who's impressed the Nationals early in camp with his bulked-up physique and began the spring with a 2-for-2 performance Monday, just launched a three-run homer off Josh Johnson to put the Nationals up 4-0 over the Marlins in the second inning. The blast had to be well over 400 feet - it was the kind of shot that left his bat so fast, you knew it was gone immediately.
The Nationals teed off on Johnson for five hits, scoring a run in the first because of a couple Marlins errors and chasing Johnson from the game before the end of the second inning. But Bernadina's shot did most of the damage, and is another early sign that he's going to be a strong contender for an outfield job.
If Morse continues to hit while Nyjer Morgan struggles, both Morse and Bernadina could work their way onto the field. It's a little early to start moving furniture in the Nationals' lineup, but in one of the most competitive spots on the roster, both players have started off hot.
John Lannan has retired the first six batters he faced, and pumped a fastball past Hanley Ramirez for his first strikeout.