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Opportunities Lost, Opportunities Gained

Austin Kearns, Wily Mo Pena and Dmitri Young have plenty in common, even when they're not sharing space in the trainer's room. Each is coming off a disappointing season. Each is a former Cincinnati Red, brought to Washington by now-departed General Manager Jim Bowden. Each is fighting for a roster spot somewhere in the overcrowded first base-corner outfield space.

And now, each is dealing with a minor injuring that is delaying -- if not hurting -- his chance to make the team.

Again today, Kearns, Pena and Young are unable to play. Kearns has missed the last few days with a blister on his left palm. Pena has a strained right shoulder. Young has a tight back.

Of the three, Kearns is likeliest to return first. He took a few swings yesterday, and the Nats hope to have him on the field tomorrow. Pena is plotting a return by mid-week. As for Young, Manager Manny Acta is still promising nothing.

"Dmitri still has some back tightness, so he's not able to do anything on the field," Acta said.

When 1B/OF Adam Dunn decided almost a week ago to play with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Acta figured that Young, Kearns and Pena could all see more at bats. But with that plan shot, another outfielder -- Roger Bernadina -- has taken full advantage. Capable of playing all three outfield positions, Bernadina has made a legitimate bid to make the Opening Day roster, Acta said today. In yesterday's game, Bernadina made two highlight reel catches in left. He's starting again today, this time in right.

Offensively, Bernadina is 4-for-11 this spring with three doubles. He has impressed the coaching staff by shortening his swing -- precisely what the staff asked him to do last season.

"Well he's playing very good in spring training," Acta said. "It's only been a few games, but still, my biggest surprise is how much he's shortened up his swing compared to last year. He has worked extremely hard, the defense has always been there, but he is really separating himself from the pack."

Acta was later asked if Kearns, Pena and Young were hurting their chances to make the team by missing time.

"Well, I think that the more games that you miss, you have a lesser opportunity to make an impression on our coaching staff," the manager said. "That's not a secret. I thought the opportunity was there when Adam went to the World Baseball Classic for us to get those guys more at bats... but the fact is, because of their injuries, they haven't been able to be out there."

By Chico Harlan  |  March 7, 2009; 12:54 PM ET
 
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Comments

Does the FO have the nerve to have Kearns Pattersoned? If it were based on talent and contributions, he'd go and Bernadina would stay. Kearns' problems are multifold, but can be basically summed up in one thought: He can't hit.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 7, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

It really makes me mad that Kearns got a blister on his hand in the first week camp. How could that happen if he was working out in the cage after that horiffic 2008 season.....Answer is he was not working out in the cage....you could see that in the box score of the first and only game he got in......Set the tone.....cut him now....what good is he to us?

And Chico....it is a lot more than a few days....he has missed 10 days now with a BLISTER.....come on get a backbone Chico and ask the real questions...

Posted by: JayBeee | March 7, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, JayBee.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 7, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Is that Pena's surgically repaired shoulder that's still giving him problems? I thought he was supposed to be ready for the season.

Posted by: Brue | March 7, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

>Kearns got a blister on his hand in the first week camp. How could that happen if he was working out in the cage after that horiffic 2008 season.....Answer is he was not working out in the cage

You can just look at how small his forearms are to see that he doesn't swing a bat very much. That's why he throws the bat at the ball, like he's stabbing at it, instead of whipping it through the zone. His hands are too weak for that.

Posted by: Brue | March 7, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Bernadina is a mirage. Of course, if he makes better contact by shortening up, then he probably won't hit for much power (outside of a homer off a no-name Italian pitcher), which really only makes him valuable in CF. He can't start at a corner position and bring much to the table, or even as a backup to the corner outfielders. That's not saying that he won't make the team if he continues to hit the outfield grass with the ball, but they'll probably have to move somebody who's in front of him on the salary chart.

Posted by: Brue | March 7, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Brue, JayBeee: How lovely to have you both aboard. Isn't it a wonderfully warm, pleasant day today? Why aren't you outside, away from your computers, basking in the suprisingly spring-like weather, and possibly playing in traffic?

Posted by: BinM | March 7, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Pena hurt the other shoulder this time.......like it matters?

That whold Season Ticker holder lunchon is was such a farse....Kasten new he was asking MLB to investigate Jimbo and Smiley....Kasten told us the team is healthy now....Kasten new the DR problems and Rijo's problems.....But what did he tell us......We are the youngest team and now the healthy........

Posted by: JayBeee | March 7, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

NOTE TO JAYBEE: Trust me all eyes are on Kearns, Rizzo is old school those going through the motion days are over for Kearns,D.Young,Wily Mo, and anybody else that thinks playing for the Nats is going to be a free ride. I'm hoping the piching staff gets the message too.There's a new sheriff in town and his name is Mike Rizzo.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 7, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Sweet - three singles, one error = 3 runs. 3-0 nats, entering the bottom of the third.

Posted by: BinM | March 7, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, Olsen got scuffed up in the bottom of the third, but holds the lead through three 3-2.

Davis leads off the 4th with a HR - 4-2, Nats.

Posted by: BinM | March 7, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Towers gets through two innings without being scored on - still 4-2 Nationals, bottom of the fifth.

Posted by: BinM | March 7, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Dunn just obliterated the second baseman to break up a DP in the WBC. Which was bad news for Canada's Pete Orr. Looks like he survived, though.

Posted by: joebleux | March 7, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

And Montz scores on a Marrero PH single - 5-2 Nats, entering the bottom of the 6th, with Clippard taking the mound.

Posted by: BinM | March 7, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

@joebleaux:

Aackk - My "steel-cage" nightmare come to fruition. Hope Orr is truly o.k., and not just 'holding on'.

Posted by: BinM | March 7, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Dunn just obliterated the second baseman to break up a DP in the WBC. Which was bad news for Canada's Pete Orr. Looks like he survived, though.

Posted by: joebleux | March 7, 2009 2:53 PM
-------------------
Aackk - My "steel-cage" nightmare come to fruition. Hope Orr is truly o.k., and not just 'holding on'.

Posted by: BinM | March 7, 2009 3:07 PM
-------------------

1a1: If Orr ends up injured, I'm holding you responsible for this, by simply suggesting the possibility.

Posted by: BinM | March 7, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Clippard gives up a 2-out HR to A.Green(2B), but manages to get out of the inning; 5-3 Nats, through six.

Posted by: BinM | March 7, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Joel Guzman with a solo shot in the 7th makes it 6-3 Nats; Mock on the mound for the bottom half of the inning.

Posted by: BinM | March 7, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

New post been up for more than an hour.

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 7, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't want to guess what Kearns was doing in the offseason so why doesn't Chico ask him?

Also, please don't make it easy on him and cut him and let him enjoy $9 million for doing nothing rather send him to A or AA and let him see what those guys go through and maybe he will remember how fortunate his life has been. It ain't the Ritz Carlton in AA ball.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 7, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Kearns will be on a major league roster, probably an over .500 roster, if he is not on the Nats this year. He's a very good defender with occasional power.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 7, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

JCA-CRYSTAL-CITY: I don't care where Kearns ends up, just off the Nats lets be real he was a bust plain and to the point more holes in his swing than Ray Charles,left more men in scoring position than the girls on K street get him gone and i don't think anybody cares where!!.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 7, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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