ATLANTA -- Several of the Nationals were glad to see June come to an end. Right fielder Roger Bernadina wasn't one of them. He had a month to remember and, in the process, went from promising prospect to true Major Leaguer.
"It's been good," said Bernadina, a rookie whose finished the month with a .329 average. "I just want to keep it going."
Bernadina broke his right ankle in April 2009 and missed the rest of the season. He started this season with Triple-A Syracuse but quickly earned a promotion by hitting .377 during 14 games.
"I needed those extra at-bats," said Bernadina, who turned 26 years old on June 12. "It helped make up for the time I missed last year."
Bernadina started 1-for-11 after being recalled, and his average was only .200 on May 9. But he finished the month at .250, then really turned it up in June. He had a .409 on-base percentage for the month. Bernadina also chipped in six extra-base hits in June, including three of his five home runs.
"Bernie has a chance to be a heck of a player," manager Jim Riggleman said. "He got an opportunity, and he's grasping it. ... We think he's the real deal."
Morgan looking for second-half surge
ATLANTA -- It was a year ago that center fielder Nyjer Morgan joined the Nationals in a trade from the Pirates and instilled renewed life in the team for two months before breaking his left hand at the end of August.
The speedy center fielder hasn't been as dynamic or productive this season, but he says not to worry. His time of year is beginning.
"I've always been a second-half player," Morgan said. "I wanted to get off to a better start, but it's still a long season. Now it's time to turn it up. I've made all the mental mistakes so far."
Morgan entered Wednesday with a .251 average and a .312 on-base percentage -- low for a leadoff hitter -- and he tried an unsuccessful drag bunt in his first at-bat against the Braves. Morgan knows that some Nationals fans aren't happy with his poor stolen-base success rate and occasional missteps in the outfield. They aren't alone; Morgan is with them.
But the California native had two hits and a stolen base in the Nationals' 7-2 victory over the Braves on Tuesday and is determined to get back on track, especially on the bases. Morgan was caught 11 times during his first 28 steal attempts and has been picked off seven times, including once on Monday.
Morgan attributes part of that to attempting to slide feet first during the opening month while protecting against another hand injury.
"It wasn't working," he said. "That's what makes my caught stealing look so bad."
"We've just seen flashes of what he can do so far this year," said general manager Mike Rizzo, who pulled off the trade with the Pirates for Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett. "He's a catalyst for us. We hope he has a second half like he did last year."
"He's been playing much better for us lately, and we are looking for more of the same," manager Jim Riggleman said. "It was a great acquisition."
Zimmermann, Wang on comeback trail
ATLANTA -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo expects both Jordan Zimmermann and Chien-Ming Wang to be ready to help the club's starting rotation before the end of the season. The question remains, however, about when they will return.
Zimmermann, coming off right elbow surgery, is scheduled to make his first Minor League rehab start on Saturday for Potomac in the Class A Advanced Carolina League. He was 3-5 with a 4.63 ERA in 16 starts for Washington last season before having surgery in August.
Wang, who twice won 19 games for the Yankees, underwent right shoulder surgery at the end of last July and is behind Zimmermann in his potential return. The native of Taiwan is scheduled to throw live batting practice for the second time on Friday at the Nationals' training complex in Florida.
Zimmermann could be ready to rejoin the rotation by the end of July. Wang's shoulder injury makes his return tricky to predict.
"There's no timetable," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "But we definitely expect him to be ready to pitch before the end of the season."
The Nationals signed Wang to a base contract of $2 million as a free agent despite the unpredictability of his return this season. He is arbitration-eligible in 2011, so he will remain under team control next season.
Gonzalez remains in lineup against Braves
ATLANTA -- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman didn't plan to sit shortstop Ian Desmond for back-to-back games, but Alberto Gonzalez changed Riggleman's plans when he got four hits on Tuesday night while filling in for Desmond.
Not wanting to change a good thing, Riggleman stuck with the same lineup for the series finale against the Braves. That meant that Desmond was on the bench for back-to-back games and the third time in the past four. When he did play Monday, he committed a costly error -- his 19th of the season.
"It was probably going to be one [day], but Gonzalez played so well," Riggleman said. "This gives us an opportunity to give [Desmond] back-to-back days and just kind of let him sit back ... and get him more pregame work."
Gonzalez earned the rare treat of starting four consecutive games. He played second base on Monday in the series opener against the Braves after playing on shortstop Sunday at Baltimore. The infielder started only five of the Nationals' first 75 games and was 1-for-17 in June before his 4-for-4 game.
Lambin named to Triple-A All-Stars
ATLANTA -- Veteran third baseman Chase Lambin will be Syracuse's only representative on the International League team for the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 14 at Lehigh Valley. The selections were announced on Wednesday.
Lambin, who turns 30 next week, was hitting .294 with 23 doubles, two triples, nine homers and 38 RBIs through 77 games. He was signed by the Nationals as a Minor League free agent after playing in Japan last season.
Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.