Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Few Minutes With Roger Bernadina

Lightening speed, excellent defensive skills--Roger Bernadina showed some Major League Talent in 2008. Given the opportunity to play Big League Ball thanks to many injuries to Our Washington Nationals--Our Number 2 shined at times. But his batting skills at the plate needed improvement. As the new 2009 Season dawns--Roger Bernadina finds himself on the bubble of heading north on The 25-Man Roster. Washington's Outfield is loaded with an overabundance of talent. And Bernadina must find a way to make a lasting impression.

Remembering that I had won his jersey last season on "Shirts Off Their Back Day"--Roger happily stopped to chat with me for few minutes before heading back to the clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium.

Here we go with A Few Minutes With Roger Bernadina.

This team has changed tremendously in the outfield over the winter, which directly affects your chances of making the team. Where do you see yourself fitting in right now? (SBF)

(Smiling) “I really don’t know. There is a lot of competition. I just have to go out there and play my best. All I really can do show them (baseball operations) what I can really do. I need to show that my skills are needed on the big league team. Despite all that—I am still having fun.”

“The final decision rests with the organization. All I can do is make every effort to do whatever I can to make that final decision difficult for them.”

I would take it that is the reason why you just turned down playing for The Netherlands in The World Baseball Classic? (SBF)

“Yes, definitely. Also, I feel like I am getting better as a professional player and I need to concentrate on my future. That is why I decided to stay here (in camp). I want to make the team and I can’t do that by not being here.”

In your brief stints in Washington last year, you showed tremendous speed, plus defensive skills in the field, but not a consistent bat at the plate. Where do you see your batting skills this season and those to come (SBF)?

“It’s a mental thing for me. I need to put everything together at the plate. The Big Leagues is far different than the minors. The pitchers can all hit their spot consistently. They make fewer mistakes—which means I have to also be more consistent. Can I make that adjustment—yeah—I think so. I am definitely going for it. Actually, I feel a lot better about my hitting. I have been working hard this off-season to compete better against Major League pitching.”

The consensus here among many observers and players is that there are many more athletes here in camp. You have shown good athletic skills as well. Do those players with more all-around skills take away from Baseball Operations viewing you as someone more unique and worth keeping? (SBF)

“Well it does make it more difficult for me. And I will have to work even harder to stand out and stay here. It’s good that we have a lot of guys that can run, jump and move a little bit. I like that—but it doesn’t make my job any easier. It makes the competition even tougher to stand out.”

So it’s safe to say that this camp is important because you need to make a name for yourself—whether that means you end up making Washington’s Team or create interest of the other Major League Clubs? (SBF)

“Yes, definitely. You got 30 teams in The Major Leagues. You are not only playing for The Nationals, but right now I got to impress them as much as possible. But I also have to go out there every day to show everyone what I can do. And from there—we see what happens there.”

This is going to be an interesting and important six weeks for you? (SBF)

“Yes. I need to go for it over the next six weeks--but I am ready for it. Definitely, I am ready for it.”

Spring Training Photo--Copyright Nats320--All Rights Reserved
Shirts Off Their Back Photo--Courtesy Mitchell Layton Photography

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to get an interview with Roger. SBF, as you know, I am a big supporter of Roger and have spent a lot of time with him. I see his potential even amongst this crowded outfield.

He did much better in his September call-up and made a memorable defensive play in LF to show everyone he can play in the Majors and be a difference maker.

Hoping he has a great Spring!!!