07/16/12 8:30 PM ET
Bernadina earns another start in center
By Tom Green / MLB.com
Bernadina got the nod over Rick Ankiel, who has a better track record against Marlins righty Carlos Zambrano. Ankiel is 3-for-5 with a home run against the Miami starter, while Bernadina was 0-for-1 entering Monday's series finale.
"He's really done a great job this year," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of Bernadina. "He hasn't been playing regularly, but his at-bats the last month have been quality at-bats. I like his stroke. He seems to be enjoying the role. He had a heck of a game yesterday. Bo [Porter] is my outfield guru, and we both like Ankiel. ... But we're sticking with the hot hand."
While Bernadina went 0-for-4 on Sunday, he is hitting .310 in limited at-bats since the start of June. He made up for his performance at the plate Sunday with his defense, despite some recent errant throws. He made a diving grab early on in straightaway center field, and later made a nice play on a line drive to shallow center.
Bernadina's biggest contribution, though, was in the third inning. With men on first and second, Marlins first baseman Carlos Lee singled to center field. Ricky Nolasco rounded third and was halfway to home before Miami third-base coach Joe Espada emphatically sent him back to the base because Bernadina attempted a throw home.
Bernadina's throw home sailed to the backstop, which would have allowed Nolasco to score easily. Instead, Jose Reyes had to retreat to second and Lee had to rush back to first to give the Marlins a bases-loaded situation with one out -- a jam the Nationals escaped unscathed en route to a 4-0 victory.
"He made a couple plays in the outfield and was aggressive and threw it over and got rid of it quick enough that the third-base coach held [Nolasco]," Johnson said. "To me, that's a great play."
Oblique better, Desmond could return Tuesday
MIAMI -- Ian Desmond was out of the Nationals' lineup again Monday, but the All-Star shortstop could be back in action when the team returns home Tuesday against the Mets.
Desmond is resting a sore left oblique he has been dealing with for the last two months. It is the first time in his career Desmond has dealt with an oblique injury, but he said he was feeling much better Monday than he did the previous two days.
"It's day to day," Desmond said. "We're going to see how it feels [Tuesday] and go from there."
Along with resting the oblique, the team has had a masseuse help the All-Star shortstop loosen up the muscles. Desmond has also been prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to help the recovery process. The injury flared up after the All-Star break -- which Desmond used to rest the injury -- and it got to the point that Desmond had to bunt for a base hit Saturday because he told manager Davey Johnson he couldn't swing the bat.
After sitting out Sunday for the first time since April 19, Desmond told Johnson he could play Monday if the team needed him. Johnson, though, opted to err on the side of caution and give another day off to Desmond, who is hitting .407 (25-59) with 16 RBIs and 14 extra-base hits in his last 15 games.
"It's not something I want to take a chance with," Johnson said. "He's too valuable to our ballclub. He could go out there and do something spectacular and hurt himself. Hopefully we'll get by the danger period with another day."
With Desmond once again out of the lineup, Danny Espinosa got the nod at shortstop. While Desmond said he felt he was at the point where he could play Monday, he noted that it could be better to miss a couple of games now than have the injury cause him to miss time later in the year.
"You got to be smart, you know," Desmond said. "This is obviously a team sport, so as bad as I want to play, it's probably not best for the team today. Like I said, [Tuesday] is a new day."
Storen to have at least one more rehab outing
MIAMI -- Nationals reliever Drew Storen made another rehab appearance Sunday, but he's not yet ready to be activated from the 15-day disabled list.
Storen threw two-thirds of an inning of relief Sunday for the Harrisburg Senators, Washington's Double-A affiliate, and gave up four runs -- all earned -- on three hits and a walk en route to blowing a save. One of the three hits Storen allowed was a home run.
Despite the result, Nationals manager Davey Johnson was pleased with the reports he got on Storen, who is working his way back from April elbow surgery that has sidelined him all season.
"I think his outing was fine," Johnson said. "Our pitching coach down there and our manager said probably one more outing and his command will get a little bit better. I think his breaking ball will be a little bit more consistent. I'm not worried about his velocity or the strength of his arm. I think his arm's in great shape."
Storen, who recorded 43 saves for the Nationals last season, will make another rehab appearance Tuesday. He will either pitch for Harrisburg on the road against Akron or for Class A Potomac at home against Lynchburg before the team decides whether or not to reinstate him from the DL.
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.