Bernie has chance to be right fielder for Nats

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said that outfielder Roger Bernadina has a chance to be on the 25 man-roster to start the season.

It helps that Bernadina is on a hot streak and has seen his batting average climb to .289 with two RBIs entering Saturday’s action against the Braves. Bernadina shortened his swing at the suggestion of hitting coach Rick Eckstein and it has paid nice dividends for the left-handed hitter. 

Because of Bernadina’s success of late, the Nationals may not be in a rush to acquire a right fielder. 

Riggleman did not say, however, if Bernadina would see most of the action in right field. As of now, Willie Harris is the right fielder against the Phillies on April 5. If Bernadina makes the team, he most likely will be part of a platoon in right field.      

“Roger is playing very well. He is really making a case for himself for that right field spot. He is running the bases well,” Riggleman said. “Rick Eckstein has really had an impact on him, especially the last 10 days. Roger has made a little adjustment at the plate. He took that to batting practice and it immediately took off [into a game].

As recently as March 17, the day right fielder Elijah Dukes was released, Bernadina wasn’t on the Nationals’ radar screen. In fact, they were thinking about sending him to Minor Leagues camp because he was off to a slow start. But the change at the plate convinced the organization to give Bernadina a longer look. 

Bernadina is a solid defender and, based on his Minor League numbers, is capable of holding his own at the plate. The 2008 season was his best, leading all Nationals prospects in hitting [.336], hits [151] and runs scored [78]. 

Last year was Bernadina’s big chance to make an impact on the big-league team, but he missed most of the season because of a fractured right ankle.

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