ATLANTA — Roger Bernadina spent time icing his right shoulder down late Friday night but the outfielder said he came out of a collision with the left field wall at Turner Field not too much worse for the wear.
“I should be fine,” Bernadina said.
Bernadina’s day at the ballpark began with him learning that his name was in the starting lineup. Michael Morse, who is still resting a bone bruise and a torn sheath in his left wrist, needs more time. Left field was Bernadina’s.
And this was a night where that appeared to be a blessing for the Nationals. Bernadina’s speed and athleticism were called on several times Friday night, pivotal in keeping the Nationals close in what was either a tied or a one-run ballgame all night long.
But he was never tested more than in the fifth inning.
After a leadoff double gave the Braves an opportunity to pad what was then a 1-0 lead, Jason Heyward rocketed a one-out line drive toward deep left field. Bernadina gave chase immediately and ensured it’d be nothing more than a dramatic out when he leapt, caught it and went crashing into the wall.
“You don’t think about it, you just go on instinct,” Bernadina said of the play. “I knew I was pretty close. The only play I could make was to jump to get it. I had to keep us in the game.”
It was a scary-looking collision, though, and Bernadina immediately grabbed at his right shoulder when he picked himself up off the warning track. The Nationals’ trainers quickly emerged from the dugout to check on him and manager Davey Johnson, too, made his way out to left field. But Bernadina stayed in.
Two innings later, during his first at-bat after the incident, Bernadina squared to bunt, which could’ve perhaps been an indication of his shoulder giving him enough trouble he was reluctant to swing. But he ended the at-bat by flying to right field and he said later he just wanted to bunt, that pain had no part in the decision.
With one outfielder already on the shelf for the time being, Johnson was relieved when Bernadina agreed to remain in the game.
“He hit it with his right shoulder,” Johnson said. “I went out there slow hoping he’d get better. He was fine. A little longer run than I wanted, but he was fine.”