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Nationals making progress in right field

Morning roundup

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.


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.


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.


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.

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 15, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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Well hopefully RF is settling down to where this team can get some positive production i like Bernadina and Morse they seem to both play hard Roger had a nice game on Sunday i'm hoping it continues.I know Riggleman would love to put the RF issue to rest once and for all and in reallity the Nats are lucky condidering the spring training fiasco that was created with the release of Elijah Dukes.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 15, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

i was thought bernadina solved our CF problem.

Posted by: longterm | June 15, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I think calling the problem solved is a bold statement, considering it should theoretically be one of your most productive offensive positions.

Posted by: TheycallmeThriiiiiiilledge | June 15, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

we put a cap on it. but it's definitely still leaking.

Posted by: longterm | June 15, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

There is someone (benders6)who posts here pretty regularly and makes this point (correctly, I think): This year is about building a long-term and stable foundation for the future. The way the numbers are shaking out in the NL, we aren't likely to be competing for a playoff spot. But we can use this season for figuring out what we have and making adjustments as we go forward. Morgan, Bernadina, and Morse are likely short-term solutions to this year's problems and role players in the long run. Play them in rotation now and find out if that is true or not. It seems to me that building for the future and finishing at .500 this season would be an amazing (+22) accomplishment.

Posted by: fpcsteve | June 15, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

TheycallmeThriiiiiiilledge, in theory you are correct but when you look at teams across both leeagues and who is patrolling RF you see the production from that spot isn't what is used to be. How many really excellent (both offensive and defensive) RFs are there nowadays anyway? Not to say we couldn't improve - certainly we can - but its not like the position is housing triple crown threats.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | June 15, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Nyjer Morgan and Roger Bernadina,are short term solutions? so what some of you are saying is that this team has the answers in the far system which means that this team will not be competing for a playoff berth in the near future because unless we are serious players in free agency i.e.(Carl Crawford) the learning curve for our young players will hamper any thoughts up of upward mobility in the NL East. The fan base of this franchise as fickled as some of them can be might not sit still any more "bad baseball".

Posted by: dargregmag | June 15, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Good to see Jeff Kobernus warming up

Posted by: Kev29 | June 15, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't Morse known as Mike before his injury. Now he's Michael?

Posted by: mike8 | June 15, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"Wasn't Morse known as Mike before his injury. Now he's Michael?"

Posted by: mike8 | June 15, 2010 11:53 AM
Yep, I heard the MASN announcers mention the fact that Morse had mentioned that he wanted to be referred to as Michael.

Posted by: HokiePost | June 15, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"Strasburg and Hernandez and pray for rain." It doesn't rhyme like Spawn and Sain, but it's the sad truth.

Posted by: lp_lodestar | June 15, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Uh, lodestar? That would be "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain." Not "Spawn".
Also, don't forget "Spahn and Burdette and pray for wet."

Posted by: bertbkatz | June 15, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Folks, corner outfielders are some of the easier positions to address in free agency or via trade down the road.

The Nationals in building their team are fortunate to have some of the 'hard to gets' already in the system:

#1 starter (Strasburg), potential #2 starter (Zimmermann), closer (Storen), 3rd base (Zimmerman), CF/RF (Harper) and catcher (Norris).

Again, beyond 2010 I would be less worried about RF (if Harper plays CF) and finding a second baseman than ensuring that the players here develop on a good arc and God willing stay healthy.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | June 15, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Harper is very unlikely to play anywhere in a Nats uniform before Sept. 2012. When he'll turn 20.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 15, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

@RoyHobbs4: I would put Desmond on the list of long-term solutions to hard to fill positions. Rizzo would likely add Detwiler to the list.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | June 15, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Right now I would say the Nats, with the exception of Desmond, are weak up the middle.

Morgan has been a pretty big disappointment, 2B is very unsettled (Guzman/Kennedy/whomever), and Pudge, wonderful as he is, cannot be the long-term solution there.

Teams that are weak up the middle do not generally win pennants.

Posted by: Meridian1 | June 15, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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