Nationals making progress in right field
For the first two months of the season, right field became an offensive sieve for the Nationals. They entered the year with no established, everyday player to man right field, and they received little production as they tried to figure out some sort of platoon or solution.
That seems to have finally changed. The Nationals decided in early May that Roger Bernadina, who started the year in Class AAA Syracuse, would be their everyday right fielder - since May 9, he has started 29 of 36 games. He made some ugly swings, his average dipped below .250 and did little to solve anything.
The Nationals stuck with him, largely because they wanted to see what they had in Bernadina. This month, with help from Michael Morse, Bernadina is rewarding the Nationals by proving all is not lost in right field.
Thanks to a scorching June, Bernadina is batting .282 with a .795 OPS for the season. In June alone, he is 13 for 34 (.382) with a .488 on-base percentage and a .529 slugging percentage.
On days Bernadina sits against lefties, Morse has continued to make right field a productive piece of the Nationals lineup -- in his three starts in right this month, Morse is 5 for 8 with three walks and a home run.
Nationals right fielders still have modest totals for the season. They have a combined .763 OPS (21st in the majors), .239 batting average (26th), .335 on-base percentage (22nd) and .428 slugging percentage (20th).
But from where they were earlier this season, it's wildly encouraging progress. On May 10, just when Bernadina was taking over, Nationals right fielders were batting .167 with a .630 OPS, which ranked last and 28th.
For the start of the season, the Nationals had a gaping hole in right field. For now, that's one problem that's been pushed aside.
FROM THE POST
The flood of attention on Stephen Strasburg has given the Nationals a national cachet they've never had before and provided a new platform for his often-overlooked teammates.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Charlotte 4, Syracuse 2: Justin Maxwell went 2 for 4 with a double. Jamie Burke went 2 for 3 with a walk. Collin Balester retired all five batters he faced in relief.
Harrisburg was off.
Potomac was off.
Asheville 8, Hagerstown 3: Josh Smoker allowed five runs on five hits and four walks in five innings, striking out eight. His ERA rose to 7.09. Jeff Kobernus went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a walk. Justin Bloxom went 1 for 3 with a home run and a walk.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Tyler Clippard succeeds with support from his father, Bill Ladson writes.
Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman doesn't seem to think the Nats have much of a chance at Roy Oswalt, listing 11 teams that could vie for him or Cliff Lee and leaving the Nationals out.
As Stephen Strasburg grabs the spotlight, don't forget about Drew Storen, Mark Zuckerman writes.
Stephen Strasburg could be an All-Star, Capitol Punishment says. I could see the league wanting this and pushing for it to happen, if Strasburg stays on his unreal pace.
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