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Right field still a work in progress

Nationals right fielders enter tonight batting .159, and they will try to improve that with Willy Taveras, a player currently batting .133. The Nationals rank dead last in batting average from their right field position and 28th with a .603 on-base plus slugging percentage. The lack of production, though, has not dampened Manager Jim Riggleman's optimism about the platoon.

"Concern is probably a little bit too strong a word for it," Riggleman said. "I like the contribution we get. I know we don't have a prototypical right fielder. But whenever I put Willie [Harris] out there, whenever I put [Roger] Bernadina out there, I feel something good is going to happen. I know we're going to play good defense. We're going to throw the ball to the right base."

Recently, Bernadina has been receiving the brunt of playing time, especially against right-handed starting pitchers. After going 0 for 4 last night, Bernadina is batting .212 with a .499 OPS. The Nationals believe Bernadina possesses the raw ability to become a reliable everyday player, and they want to give him a chance to prove it.

"He's had some days where it looks like, 'Okay, he's get ready to take off here.' And then the next day he'll swing at a bad pitch or something," Riggleman said. "It's too small a sample so far to judge it. Bernie is a special athlete. We want to get something out of those guys. We want to find out. It's been too few at-bats, but the other side of it is they're not kids. It's time to make a move there."

Bernadina's playing time has come at the expense of Harris, the other left-handed hitting candidate. Part of the reason, Riggleman said, is that he values Harris's versatility off the bench.

"It is a dilemma," Riggleman said. "It's a nice dilemma. But every now and then it gets in a guy's head a little bit, gets suffering a little bit, not getting enough at-bats. You've got to try to put them out there as best you can."

Riggleman considered playing Cristian Guzman in right field for today's game in order to give Alberto Gonzalez a rare start at second base. But Riggleman decided ultimately the windy conditions at Citi Field offered too large of a risk to play Guzman, an inexperienced outfielder.

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By Adam Kilgore  |  May 11, 2010; 6:47 PM ET
 | Tags: Right fielder, Roger Bernadina, Willie Harris, Willy Taveras  
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Comments

I would rather have Guz on a windy day in the lineup than the other guys we have thrown out there I think Guz gould hit better than .159 with a broomstick.

Posted by: markfd | May 11, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

That's a large hole in RF. We have to have some production from that position. Doesn't that guy Mike Morse play the outfield?

Look at the difference hitting from the catcher position makes on the line up......

Posted by: punchdaclock | May 12, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Mike Morse can play the corner OF positions, he may be average at best defensively but they could possibly gain a lot more offensively, at least until a long term answer is found. He's swinging the bat well at AAA.

Posted by: dabagley | May 12, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

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