Roger Bernadina has logged 158 plate appearances this season, and he has a .282 batting average after starting this homestand 11-for-24 at the plate. It comes around the same time Bernadina peaked last season, getting to .291 on June 28 after a 9-for-23 stretch.
His season after that was a long slide toward mediocre numbers; Bernadina hit just .219 in his final 81 games, with his worst play coming in the season's final days. He hit .161 in September and October, posting just three extra-base hits in that time.
One theory was that Bernadina had hit a wall in his first full major league season, playing fatigued through the final months and struggling because of it. That line of thinking doesn't hold water with manager Jim Riggleman. And this season, the Nationals are still looking for the outfielder to bring all of his gifts to bear and become a consistent force in their lineup.
"He's shown this before - I think last year, he was really moving toward hitting .280, and the next thing you know, he'd drop back," Riggleman said. "I told him, 'You're the strongest man in baseball. You can't get tired. Physically, 400 or 500 at-bats cannot stop you from playing. You've got to maintain your ability to play everyday. The word 'tired' should never creep in with Roger Bernadina playing left field, center field, whatever.' "
Bernadina's problem has always been his streaky play in the majors; even this week, his tear at the plate came after a slump that had knocked his average down to .240. He has the talent to play near the top of the Nationals' lineup, and he'll continue to get chances with Rick Ankiel on the disabled list.
But the Nationals need to see him sustain himself through at least 400 at-bats before they'll believe he's a permanent part of their future.