PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 09: Roger Bernadina #2 of the Washington Nationals catches a fly ball in left field against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on May 9, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jayson Werth is not going to be back for a while, with the broken left wrist he suffered this past Sunday night likely to cost the 32-year-old outfielder at least twelve weeks. Michael Morse is still working his way back, but no one's sure when exactly the power-hitting outfielder will return from the lat issue which has sidelined him since Spring Training. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters two days back, in the wake of the injury to the Washington Nationals' right fielder, that he didn't think the team would look outside the organization for help. As MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats) wrote on Twitter in explaining the general manager's position, "Instead of making a trade for offense, Mike Rizzo is hoping that players like [Xavier] Nady and [Roger] Bernadina can step up during Werth's absence."
Rizzo added one other name to the mix when he spoke about the oppportunity Morse and Werth's injury presented to the other outfielders in the organization yesterday on 106.7 the FAN's The Mike Rizzo show, teliing hosts Danny Rouhier and Holden Kushner that it was time for somebody to claim the job. "It's step up time for somebody to take that left field position and run with it," Rizzo said, "Because there [are] at bats to be had, plate appearances to be had and game time to be had out in left field right now. We've made no secret about that. Davey [Johnson] has kind of mixed and matched out there to try to find the hot guy and somebody, be it Roger or Nady or [Tyler] Moore or somebody that I'm not thinking of [can] come in there and grab the bull by the horns and take the job and perform."
"With injury [comes] opportunity," Rizzo concluded, "and somebody's got an opportunity to get some at bats and show that they're a major league caliber everyday player." Nats' skipper Davey Johnson had 25-year-old first-baseman-turned left fielder Tyler Moore out in left last night with Pirates' left-hander Erik Bedard on the mound. After hitting 31 HR's for the second-straight year and posting a .270/.314/.572 line at Double-A Harrisburg last season, Moore was off to a good start at Triple-A this year, with a .286/.364/.597 slash, three doubles and seven HR's in 22 games and 88 plate appearances before he was called up to the majors after Mark DeRosa went on the DL, but he's been used sparingly thus far by the Nats' manager.
Roger Bernadina's been given multiple opportunities to claim a role either in center of left field over the last few seasons, but the 27-year-old "Shark" has a career .238/.304/.359 line as a major leaguer, and he's off to a slow start again this season, with five doubles, seven walks, 17 K's and a .184/.298/.286 slash in his first 23 games 57 trips to the plate. Nady, who signed late this Spring to a minor league deal and surprised many by making the team, has hit in just eight of his first 62 at bats with a double and a home run in 21 games.
It's not just the left field options that have failed to produce thus far. The Nationals are struggling as a team offensively and the Nats' skipper called a team meeting before tonight's series finale with the Pittsburgh Pirates to let them know that he still believes in them:
Nats had a team meeting today. Mainly, Davey wanted to reaffirm his confidence in the players after last night, told them not to press.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) May 10, 2012
Davey on the team meeting: "I just wanted them to know that I'm with 'em... Maybe it was more for me than them." #nats— Amanda Comak (@acomak) May 10, 2012
Davey on today's meeting: "I felt like certain guys were pressing. I wanted to let them know I'm behind them 100%."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) May 10, 2012
The Nationals play one more in Pittsburgh tonight then it's on to Cincinnati for three more with the Reds to end the current road trip. With Stephen Strasburg tonight, Gio Gonzalez tomorrow and Jordan Zimmermann after that, the Nats have their 1-2-and-3 starters lined up just when they need to stop the three-game losing streak that started with the loss to the Phillies this past Sunday night. Another injury has forced them to rearrange the lineup again just when they thought the return of Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche would give the team some of the stability they've been lacking so far this season, but instead with Werth out, Davey Johnson is forced to once again to search for the right combination to get things turned around.