New approach, teammate's advice helps Bernadina

New approach, teammate's advice helps Bernadina

WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina is having his best season in the big leagues. Entering Thursday's action against the Cubs, Bernadina was hitting a career-high .304 with four home runs and 23 RBIs.

Bernadina said one of the reasons for his success is that he is more focused at the plate. Instead of trying to hit for power, Bernadina's approach is to hit the baseball up the middle. It also helps that he has an idea when he will get into a game while coming off the bench.

"My approach is to go more up the middle and try not to do too much with it," said Bernadina, the man affectionately known as "The Shark." "[In the past] I tried to do too much. Sometimes I would get a pitch I could hit and I would foul it off.

"Now, I'll probably get one AB a night. You have to be ready for that pitch. Whenever you don't start, you have to be more patient and look for your pitch. It's like that moment, you have to focus on that AB. You do whatever you can do. You have to have the mentality day in and day out."

Bernadina also credits teammate Mark DeRosa for telling him to use a lighter bat. To start the season, Bernadina was using a 34 1/2-ounce bat. He now uses 33- and 31-ounce bats.

"All those things together [sticking to his plan at the plate and DeRosa's advice], it's turned out well," Bernadina said. "Coming from the bench, you have to have a different mentality. It worked out well this season.

"[DeRosa] is a great teammate. He definitely brings a lot in the clubhouse. He has been in the league for a while. He always has something that he sees. He is ready to help. He is definitely a great teammate."