Associated Press photo
Roger Bernadina watches his fifth-inning homer clear the fence.
Bernadina, though, has never been able to sustain that level of play for any length of time, forever teasing the Nationals with his skills, but only in spurts.
The 27-year-old outfielder has been at it again the last couple of days. He's homered in back-to-back games and gone a combined 5-for-6 with six RBI and a walk.
One reason for Bernadina's recent surge in power: He's worked with hitting coach Rick Eckstein on staying "inside" the ball and not flying open on his swing.
"That's been actually the key," he said. "I came off the ball a lot, almost roll over. That's been working well for me right now."
Bernadina has also impressed lately in the outfield and on the bases. During today's game against the Astros, he went hard into second base to break up a double play and allow a run to cross the plate. Actually, he and his teammates thought he beat the throw and should have been ruled safe.
"Whatever it takes to get the run in," he said.
Part of the problem in evaluating Bernadina has been the question about what kind of player he should be: A table-setter who uses his speed to score runs, or a run producer capable of providing a big blast.
"You know, with his speed, he's a guy you look at who can kind of bunt and hit a few little soft liners in there," manager Davey Johnson said. "But he's got tremendous power. He's a big, strong guy."
Having used up all of Bernadina's options the last three years, the Nationals face a potentially difficult decision next week. If he doesn't make the roster, he would have to be placed on waivers and exposed to 29 other clubs.
For now, Bernadina appears to be safe as one of two backup outfielders, along with Brett Carroll. The situation, though, remains fluid, particularly with the uncertain status of left fielder Michael Morse and first baseman Adam LaRoche.
"I don't worry about that," Bernadina said. "I want to get in a groove to help the ballclub somehow. Whatever it is, I'll see what happens. I don't worry about that right now."