Bernadina excels after Dukes' tips
Reserve outfield candidate responds with big day at plate
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes showed how much of a giving teammate he was Tuesday morning.
During batting practice, Dukes noticed that outfielder Roger Bernadina was gripping the bat too tight and his elbows were too close to his body. Dukes wanted Bernadina to keep his hands back. The way Bernadina was holding the bat in the past had given him trouble hitting inside pitches.
Dukes declined to talk about his good deed specifically. But he did say, "I want everybody to make it."
Dukes' advice evidently paid off immediately, as Bernadina went 3-for-5 against Italy on Tuesday afternoon, hitting a game-ending three-run homer against right-hander Cody Cillo to give the Nationals a 9-6 win.
"I remember what Dukes told me and everything went well," Bernadina said.
Bernadina, grateful to get the advice, said he accepted the help gladly because Dukes had a productive season in 2008. In 81 games, Dukes hit .264 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs.
"Elijah saw things and he was trying to help me out," Bernadina said. "He was trying to help me get better. I took the advice. He is trying to help me get to the next level. He is a good guy. He is always trying to help somebody in the clubhouse. I appreciate it a lot."
Bernadina is trying to win a job with the Nationals as a reserve. He had two Major League stints with the team last season, hitting .211 with two RBIs in 26 games.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.