Roger Bernadina is vying to make the Nationals, one year after bad break derailed his season
Last season, Roger Bernadina flashed his vast potential as an outfielder on the same play that torpedoed his progress toward fulfilling it. In the eighth inning of his first start of the season, Bernandina raced back to the centerfield wall, leaped to catch a deep drive by Dan Uggla, and crashed against the wall. When he got up, he walked through a gate in centerfield. His right ankle fractured, Bernadina walked off a field for the final time that year.
On Thursday, Bernadina played a major league game for the first time since the injury that derailed him in 2009 after only three big league appearances. Bernadina, who will lead off in the game that's about to begin, is now part of the competition to win an outfield bench spot, along with outfielders Justin Maxwell and Willy Taveras and also potential utility players Ian Desmond, Mike Morse, and Chris Duncan.
"I'm really excited to play again," Bernadina said. "It's another season. I'm really motivated."
Bernadina, 25, played in an instructional league in October, but he said his ankle felt sore after workouts and did not feel fully recovered until December.
Manager Jim Riggleman said the Nationals know Bernadina, Maxwell and Taveras are all capable, if not excellent, outfielders, and offensive production will determine the spot. On Thursday, Bernadina went 1 for 2 with a walk and two runs, beating out an infield hit.
If Bernadina has his way, he'll be beating out many more. While on the mend, Bernadina worked on his bunting ability in order to make himself more of an offensive weapon.
"It feels good," Bernadina said. "I have no problems. It was hard, but after a while you have to deal with it and move forward."
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