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Posted at 7:16 PM ET, 03/ 2/2011

Roger Bernadina's strong start, Bryce Harper's near miss, Nationals pitchers stay under control

By Adam Kilgore

roger bunt.jpg

The Nationals moved to 3-0 today with an 8-4 win over the Marlins. Three things other than Yunesky Maya (who I wrote about for tomorrow's paper) that stood out:

>>> The two Nationals players off to the best start are the ones vying for the left field spot. Michael Morse had the day off, and so Roger Bernadina took his place as the Nationals' hitting star. Bernadina led off and played center field, going 2 for 4 with a three-run home run and a bunt single.

Through three games, Bernadina is 4 for 6, two of those hits bunt singles, with a walk and the homer, which was a bomb to right off Josh Johnson. The wind was whipping out that way, but Bernadina's blast needed no help. "In Nationals Park," Manager Jim Riggleman said, "that ball is a home run."

The next time up to bat, with one out and nobody on, Bernadina showed off the other part of his game. Left-hander Mike Dunn was on the mound, and Bernadina rolled a clinical bunt into the no-man's land between the mound, first base and the second baseman.

"That's something I want to work on," Bernadina said. "Whatever I can do to help the team get on-base somehow."

Bernadina posted a paltry .307 on-base percentage last year, so any bit helps. Riggleman explained the particular importance of Bernadina bunting against lefties: First, Bernadina hits right-handers better, so a bunt can be a different weapon against a lefty. Second, when a left-hander finishes his delivery, he typically falls off to the third-base side of the field. That leaves a hole if Bernadina executes a drag bunt.

"Against a left-handed pitcher, there's a lot of hits in that gap there," Riggleman said. "With his speed, it's impossible for the first baseman or the second baseman to do something with it."

Riggleman also said that the winner of the left-field competition will likely hit sixth.

>>> In the eighth inning, Bryce Harper almost hit his first home run. Tom Koeler fed him a high fastball, and Harper blasted it to left-center. The crowd buzzed for a second, but Josh Kroeger tracked it down and made a nice running catch on the warning track. Harper had to settle for an F8, but it was easily the hardest hit ball he's had yet.

"That was impressive," Rigglemam said. "And I promise you, he didn't get that ball as good as he can get it, not by any means. He barreled it up decent. But I think he'd tell you, 'I just missed it.' But he got enough that it's a home run on most days."

In his first at-bat, Harper walked, a good sign given his free-swinging ways during his first couple games. Harper promptly went first to third on a single, a solid, aggressive piece of base running.

"He just got a good read on it," Riggleman said. "He attacked second base full speed. He didn't need the coach. His instincts told him, 'I can get to third on this ball.' "

>>> This deserves another mention: the Nationals are not walking anybody. Steve McCatty told pitchers in a meeting early this spring that they needed to challenge batters to put the ball in play, and they have done so. John Lannan, who allowed one run after retiring the first six batters he faced, issued the Nationals' only walk today.

Through three games, the Nationals have only walked three hitters. And they have struck out 25, good for an 8.3 strikeout-to-walk rate. That is awesome.

Real quickly: Atahualpa Severino and Sean Burnett both turned in 1-2-3 innings, each with one strikeout. And Rick Ankiel notched his first hit of the spring, a solo home run.

By Adam Kilgore  | March 2, 2011; 7:16 PM ET
 
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Next: Yunesky Maya's new strike zone

Comments

What, considering HGH Bernadina will probably be working the aisle next to me at Publix next week, I guess the Natinals will have nothing left but AAAA players on their "roster."

Of course, all 2 dozen Natinal "fans" would probably rather step on the 1st Amendment then watch a team that consistently wins every year and sells out nearly every home game like the Orioles!

Hahahahahahhahahahahhaha

Posted by: SUPER_L0NELY | March 2, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

lol@ the "super lonely" O's fan who think his team is a "consistent winner"

Posted by: ckirchne | March 2, 2011 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Hey look who got banned... again and re-registered... again

Same f*ckwad, different name

Posted by: Kev29 | March 2, 2011 8:04 PM | Report abuse

3-0. Yes, it's no-matter ST.
But it sure beats 0-11, if only so they don't have to focus on answering endless questions about winning a game, or two.

I'm among those with low expectations for this year. But if you can't dream in March, when can you? It's always sweeter to root for overachievers, so wouldn't it be nice....

Posted by: swhite21 | March 2, 2011 8:11 PM | Report abuse

"Riggleman also said that the winner of the left-field competition will likely hit sixth."

So it's a competition - one guy wins the job, the other guy is on the bench - not a platoon?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 2, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey look who got banned... again and re-registered... again

Same f*ckwad, different name

Posted by: Kev29 | March 2, 2011 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Leave it to a Natinal "fan" to think I got banned. Maybe when you and your husband are drooling over Harper and his faux-hawk, and the O's are winning the World Series, and Natinals fans don't know anything about the 1st Amendment, and the Redskins are awesome, then, ummm..... wait, what are we talking about?

hahahahahahahhahahahaha

Posted by: SUPER_L0NELY | March 2, 2011 8:13 PM | Report abuse

super_lonely is poopy. wow poopy, please get a life. clearly you are very lonely, stop hating on the nationals and go to an o's blog.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 2, 2011 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Of course, Kev29 I'll be reporting you to the police.

What, with "f*ckwad" being fighting words, which aren't protected by the 1st Amendment.

hahahahahahhhahahaha

Posted by: SUPER_L0NELY | March 2, 2011 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Wait, who am I again?

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 2, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, I'm actually flattered that someone would go as far to try to impersonate me, in a pathetic effort to get me to throw up my hands in frustration and leave the blog.

Believe me pal, you're not the first, and won't be the last. I'll outlast you, just like I outlast you (or according to your wife I do) while her and I are playing together in the sack.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 2, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh and rachel, try finding a man, or woman, whatever floats your boat.

Heck, I'm sure even maybe a gargoyle living under a bridge would welcome even advances from you.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 2, 2011 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, I'm actually flattered that someone would go as far to try to impersonate me, in a pathetic effort to get me to throw up my hands in frustration and leave the blog.

Believe me pal, you're not the first, and won't be the last. I'll outlast you, just like I outlast you (or according to your wife I do) while her and I are playing together in the sack.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 2, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Man, another pathetic Natinals "troll." Only a Natinal fan would think I have a wife. I'm in to dudes, dude. Go O's!!!!!!

hahahahahahhahahahhaa

Posted by: SUPER_L0NELY | March 2, 2011 8:27 PM | Report abuse

you have major problems

Posted by: rachel216 | March 2, 2011 8:27 PM | Report abuse

you have major problems

Posted by: rachel216 | March 2, 2011 8:27 PM
-----

Look in the mirror, Sandy-baby.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 2, 2011 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Just wanted to thank gilbert for his concise and accurate explanation of the First Amendment in the comments to the last post. For anyone who still doesn't get it: that amendment means that the GOVERNMENT can't stop you from speaking, which is why the recent Supreme Court decision was exactly right. But that's ALL it means. If the Washington Post wants to ban anyone from "speaking" here, or if any poster wants to advocate that, it has NOTHING to do with the First Amendment. And that's fact, not opinion.

Posted by: skidge | March 2, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Strange how Poopy mildly irritates me, but the nunof1s, and too many others on this site I find downright repulsive.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | March 2, 2011 9:03 PM
------

Someone else speaking the truth. Good to see.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 2, 2011 9:11 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't even dignify you know who's comments with an answer.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 2, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Why do I keep hearing Nyger Morgan being called the "starting center fielder"?

Morgan is 0-6 with 1 GIDP and 6 LOB is two games. Bernadina will be the starting CF on Opening Day. I think Morgan will eventually be cut.

Morse, Bernadina, and Werth with Ankiel and Nix backing them up.

Posted by: onfirepsports | March 2, 2011 10:18 PM | Report abuse

onfirepsports,

Here's hoping. I like Nyger and all but I think Bernadina is gonna be a good one. He's got the range/speed for CF and he's got some pop to boot.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | March 2, 2011 10:47 PM | Report abuse

>In his first at-bat, Harper walked, a good sign given his free-swinging ways during his first couple games.

There really isn't much left for him to catch on to.

Posted by: Brue | March 2, 2011 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Morgan hasn't shown me that he's improved at all from last year. I know it's early, but if he continues to play like this in the spring and Bernadina keeps playing to his potential, I say play Bernadina in center, Morse/Ankiel in left, with Werth in Right. That will open a spot for Cora or Gonzalez as an extra middle infielder/utility guy that could really help the team. The Nats' management really needs to look hard at the team this spring and not give any player (Morgan) the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: ASchumacher | March 2, 2011 11:33 PM | Report abuse

A few random things bothering me this week:

1) Please don't feed the trolls.
2) Kilgore you are doing a fine job.
3) Nyjer Morgan spells his name N-Y-J-E-R. It was one thing when we first got the guy, by last season though I was amazed how many people still botched it. But now, its just ridiculous. I hate spelling/grammar/vernacularly nazis, but for some reason that one really puts me on tilt.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | March 2, 2011 11:33 PM | Report abuse

"3) Nyjer Morgan spells his name N-Y-J-E-R. It was one thing when we first got the guy, by last season though I was amazed how many people still botched it. But now, its just ridiculous. I hate spelling/grammar/vernacularly nazis, but for some reason that one really puts me on tilt."

Egads, Dude...don't you have better things going on in your life?

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | March 2, 2011 11:48 PM | Report abuse

roger needs to be our cf

Posted by: bford1kb | March 3, 2011 12:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Imjus - spell the man's name correctly.

Some people clearly "misspell" it purposefully. But only some.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | March 3, 2011 12:10 AM | Report abuse

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | March 3, 2011 1:22 AM | Report abuse

AK, you are doing a fine job. Thanks for all the posts, with reporting as well as opinion. Unfortunately the comments section has degenerated to the point that it's difficult to read - hard to find the entries that are interesting among all the junk.

I doubt that the Nats will use spring training stats as the only measure when deciding which players to take north. So Morgan's 0 for 6 isn't as important as we make it out to be. The front office values their scouting ability - if they're seeing something beyond the stats they're going to go with their judgment.

Posted by: utec | March 3, 2011 5:53 AM | Report abuse

God help us if the Nats were 0-3. People would be screaming for Rizzo / Riggleman's scalp. As it is, some are looking at certain player's 3 game stats and sealing the book of judgement. Why not wait for a while and see how ST pans out? The negativism here is palpable. It may be well deserved by July but this is March 3rd!!! And I will request this once (and by doing so, violate my own plea - I understand), but PLEASE try and resist the temptation of responding to excrement and his other schizo personalities. They thrive on attention as they sit, jobless in their parent's basement, knocking out their puerile screeds and getting their jollys when they are responded to (yes, I know - like this). But the key is to ignore and not argue or try to make a point with them. The frustration level will drive them away unless we validate their on-line existence. The objective is also to drive people away - which has suceeded to a point. So my suggestion is to completely ignore these scum and continue on with the thread. That's the last I will say. I will now flog myself for being an apparent hypocrite and procede to follow my own advice evermore. My apologies to my fellow posters.

Posted by: Natstoyou | March 3, 2011 7:05 AM | Report abuse

So the Rangers are taking their young closer, stretching him out, and working on converting him into a starter. Because a font line starter will always be more important, and far more higher valued, than a closer.
Hmmmmm. We have a young closer type.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 3, 2011 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, who comments on an F8? I hope this guy is mentally stable or he is in for some trouble.

Posted by: leftovers | March 3, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Why do I keep hearing Nyger Morgan being called the "starting center fielder"?

Morgan is 0-6 with 1 GIDP and 6 LOB is two games. Bernadina will be the starting CF on Opening Day. I think Morgan will eventually be cut.

Morse, Bernadina, and Werth with Ankiel and Nix backing them up.

Posted by: onfirepsports | March 2, 2011 10:18 PM
--------------------------------------------------------

Nailed it.

Posted by: fischy | March 3, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

WHOA!!! Let's not cut our starting CF'er just yet, as president of the N-Y-J-E-R MORGAN fan club i take issue with all those who would cut this guy and not even give him a chance shades of Elijah Dukes. Nyjer just need's time he's had how many at bat's? now let's just say that Bernadina,Ankiel, and Morse stink out the joint by the end of spring trainining then what? let's allow ST to play itself out and then let the chip's fall where they may.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 3, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

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